Advancements in Treating Diabetic Eye Disease

October 5th, 2021

Diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related eye diseases have been the subject of intense research in recent years, and we’re seeing significant benefits. Not only do we have more treatment options to help protect diabetic patients’ eyesight, but there are also more ways to detect diabetic eye diseases early. At ICON Eyecare, our eye doctors in the Front Range improve patients’ vision with skilled cataract and LASIK surgery in the Denver metro area, and we also emphasize leading diagnosis and treatment methods to protect patients’ vision from disease. We offer access to many of the most experienced, well-informed ophthalmologists in Denver treating diabetic retinopathy and other complex eye concerns.

New Advances in Diabetic Eye Disease Detection

1. AI and Biomarkers

Early detection combined with new treatment options is helping address diabetic eye disease very early on. The National Eye Institute reports that specialized optical techniques and artificial intelligence-based analysis of diabetic eye imaging are revealing “biomarkers” that provide an early warning system for diabetic retinopathy. NEI is also funding efforts to develop automated scanning devices to help broaden access to early detection of eye conditions that, untreated, can lead to blindness.

2. Monitoring Retinal Swelling and Blood Vessel Damage

Other techniques now used to detect diabetic retinopathy include fluorescein angiography, which uses a dye traveling through blood vessels to provide clearer pictures of retinal issues, and optical coherence tomography or OCT, which measures the thickness of the retina to determine fluid leakage and swelling as well as monitor treatment results.

3. Recent Treatment Developments for Diabetic Eye Disease

Injectable anti-VEGF drugs are being used to treat diabetic macular edema (DME) and diabetic retinopathy, especially in later stages. While laser treatments or surgery may still be needed, anti-VEGF drugs block a protein that increases retinal issues such as leaking blood vessels and macular edema, the swelling of a part of the retina. This treatment can help stop the progression of diabetic eye disease and improve vision, and research is exploring whether it may be helpful in prevention.

Existing treatments include photocoagulation, a direct laser treatment of blood vessel leaks, and panretinal photocoagulation, which applies a broader laser treatment, are used to respond to diabetic retinopathy in later stages. Vitrectomy, eye surgery that can help address blood leakage from vessels in the eye, also helps manage scar tissue which, tugging on the retina, can result in a detached retina and serious vision problems.

Diabetes Control Strategies Are Always Improving

In addition to diet and exercise, a variety of newer diabetes treatments are available that help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetic complications including eye disease. Creative solutions go beyond a focus on insulin to medications that remove sugar from the blood through the kidneys, reduce the liver’s production of related sugar compounds, and provide other innovative treatments.

Our Eye Care Patients with Diabetes Have More Reasons for Optimism

At ICON Eyecare, our eye doctors in the Front Range are excited to have numerous options available and in development to keep diabetic eye disease from damaging our patients’ vision. Visit our ophthalmologists in Denver for expert diabetic eye care.