Irene Rusu, MD
Macular Degeneration Specialist
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. The disease damages the blood vessels of the retina, causing retinal bleeding, scar tissue formation, and sometimes retinal detachment. The retinal damage is called diabetic retinopathy. The initial stages of diabetic retinopathy cause no symptoms but can be detected by our Brooklyn eye doctors during routine diabetic eye care screening. Sometimes, swelling of the retina (macular edema) can occur which can cause blurring or visual loss. This retinal swelling can be detected in our office using an advanced imaging instrument called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The advanced stage of the disease, when retinal neovascularization and bleeding occurs, is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy can cause profound visual loss beucase without the appropriate retinopathy laser treatment, hemorrhages occur within the eye that lead to severe retinal damage. Our Brooklyn office has the latest in Digital Fluorescein Angiography technology to determine the extent of retinopathy laser treatment needed to stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
For proper diabetic eye care, all patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes should have a yearly eye exam to screen for diabetic eye disease. This is particularly important since the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy do not have any symptoms. If diabetic retinopathy is detected, our ophthalmologists will work with your medical doctor to create a treatment plan that will stabilize your blood sugar and reduce progression of the retinopathy.
Advanced stages of diabetic eye disease may require retinopathy laser treatments and possibly injection of medicines that reduce retinal bleeding and retinal swelling. The two most common laser treatments for diabetic retinopathy are focal photocoagulation and panretinal photocoagulation. These procedures are performed on site by our Brooklyn retinal specialist with minimal discomfort. With appropriate evaluation and treatment, blindness from diabetes can now be largely prevented, improving the quality of life for all diabetics.
Normal human retina
There are now two medications currently available that can reduce or eliminate the swelling in the center part of the retina, called the macula. Lucentis and Avastin are vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors that stop the leakage of the retinal capillaries that cause the layers in the macula to swell with fluid and cause blurry central vision. These medications have shown remarkable effectiveness in clearing the swelling and improving patients’ vision. These medications are injected into the side of the eye at our clinic for diabetic macular edema by our specially trained retinal specialist using a fine needle, in a painless procedure taking only a few seconds. VEGF inhibitors, like Eylea, Lucentis and Avastin, have dramatically improved our ability to reduce the vision loss that can occur in diabetic retinopathy.