Wednesday, May 31, 2006 | 3 comment(s)
In my last post I promised that I would share with
Second person, plural"y’all" -- if you’re from the South,
"yous" -- if you’re from Philly, and
"yinz" -- if you’re from Pittsburgh/Western PA
There are several stages/types of diabetic retinopathy. The most common is known as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy or “background” retinopathy. This is when the tiny capillaries in the retina start to weaken and show signs of
Or:Small bulges, like an over-inflated balloon or bike tire.
The next stage in the progression of the disease is when these tiny capillaries become blocked, and show signs of retinal
Or:An inadequate supply of oxygen.
One would think that getting more blood flow to a starving region of the body would be a good thing, but
It's no good for cancer, eitherYou don’t want to feed a tumor, though sometimes the body will do just that.
Another type of retinopathy is called diabetic
Defns:The macula is the central part of the retina and is the part of your retina responsible for (you guessed it!) your central vision. Edema simply means swelling.
Laser therapy has been used very successfully to treat diabetic retinopathy. Having laser treatment, however, is essentially doing some controlled damage to hopefully prevent significant future vision loss. Studies have found that laser treatment for proliferative diabetic retinopathy reduces the risk of significant vision loss by about 50%. My understanding is that the risk over a two year period of having a significant hemorrhage resulting in some temporary or potentially permanent vision loss is about 7%, and laser treatment cuts this risk in half.
There are a few different types of laser treatment used, but for proliferative retinopathy, the most common procedure is called “panretinal photocoagulation“ (yep, that’s a mouthful). This procedure basically involves shooting a little over 1,000 laser burns in a grid-like pattern in the periphery of your retina (away from the macula where the central vision takes place). There are two reasons for this: First, the lasers cutoff and cauterize the new capillary growth. Second, the laser burns hopefully slow down or stop more capillary growth. This happens because the laser actually destroys bits of your retina, which then reduces the overall oxygen demand of the retina (if there’s less there, there’s less demand for oxygen). This should then decrease the signals being sent to create new capillaries. At least that’s the theory.
The most common side effects listed for panretinal photocoagulation are “decreased night vision”, and “decreased peripheral vision”. These two phrases are SO frustratingly vague to anyone about to under go said treatment, it’s enough to drive one bananas with fear. In my next post, I’ll go over what the actual treatment was like for me and describe the side effects I’ve been experiencing.
Here are some really good resources that I’ve found on retinopathy and diabetes complications in general. (I hope you find this useful, and not just a scary lecture).
Current ResearchFocus on Retinopathy
Quality of Life after Laser Treatment
Diabetes Complications in GeneralPathobiology of Diabetic Complications
Diabetic Microvascular Complications