Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is a more serious phase of Diabetic Retinopathy as it is likely to cause significant loss of vision. As the small blood vessels in the Retina become weakened and more narrow, they can begin to close and block blood flow. When blood flow to the Retina is blocked, that carries a significant risk of vision loss. With the progression of Diabetic Retinopathy, the blood vessels in the retina continue to weaken and narrow, and actually begin to close and block blood flow. When blood vessels close, they are no longer capable of carrying oxygen to the retinal tissue, a condition called Retinal Ischemia. In response to the lack of oxygen, the Retina responds compensating for the reduced circulation by growing new, but abnormal blood vessels-a process called neovascularization.
The presence of Retinal Neovascularization is an indication that a patient has progressed into the phase of Diabetic Retinopathy called Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. You might wonder, why the compensatory mechanism of growing new blood vessels to supply oxygen to the Retina is a bad event. Retinal Neovascularization is formed from new blood vessels that are extremely fragile and tend to break easy and hemorrhage into the Vitreous. If left untreated, Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy will result in a Vitreous Hemorrhage that can cause scarring and Retinal Detachment with significant loss of vision. In its early course, Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is treated with laser photocoagulation. As it advances, Proliferative Diabetic Retinopthy requires laser treatment combined with a surgical procedure called a Vitrectomy in which a Vitreoretinal Surgeon will remove the vitreous that has become filled with blood or scar tissue.
For some patients, the presence of Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy with Neovascularization does not seem to cause vision loss. Even in these cases, early and aggressive treatment plans are required in order to prevent the inevitable vision loss that will likely occur.
Please contact Seeta Eye at (845) EYE-CARE to learn more about proliferative diabetic retinopathy and your treatment options in Poughkeepsie & Yorktown Heights.