researchers use low-intensity micro-pulses to treat
the growth of blood vessels and the swelling in the
retina. The idea is that low-level laser energy in the
eye could slow the growth of fragile blood vessels
and reduce swelling without damaging the tissue
responsible for peripheral sight, says Rosen.
A treatment for retinal swelling (macular edema)
may hold promise for abnormal blood vessel growth.
The FDA recently approved for retinopathy treatment
Lucentis, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor
(anti-VEGF) drug that is injected directly into the
eye and works to stop damaged blood vessels from
leaking (the drug was already approved
to treat macular edema). It may reduce
the growth of blood vessels and, in some
cases, improve vision more than the
traditional laser treatment, says Chew.
Now, pharmaceutical companies are
investigating how to extend the length
of time these drugs work in the body to limit of;ce
visits. Rather than monthly injections, the aim is to go
six months or longer between treatments, says Rosen.
Drug trials are also underway to treat early stages of
the disease, most likely with oral medication, which is
more appealing than anti-VEGF injections. Researchers
have identi;ed molecules that can affect how the capillaries
become clogged with red and white blood cells. The goal is
to prevent capillaries from closing or to reopen them. “If we
can address the disease right at the beginning, then we can
change the whole course of it,” says Rosen.
Don’t wait until you notice vision loss, dark spots, or other abnormalities to see
an ophthalmologist. With regular screenings, your doctor can detect eye disease
early and help to preserve your vision. The American Diabetes Association’s 2017
Standards of Medical Care recommends:
• ADULTS WITH TYPE; 1 have a dilated eye exam within ;ve years of their
• KIDS WHO’VE HAD TYPE 1 DIABETES for three to ;ve years should get a
comprehensive eye exam at age 10 or a;er puberty has begun, whichever is earlier.
• PEOPLE WITH TYPE; 2 have a dilated eye exam at the time of their
• PEOPLE WITH TYPE 1 AND 2 have annual dilated eye exams. If there is no
evidence of retinopathy for one or more annual exams and blood glucose is
well managed, doctors may recommend eye exams every two years.
• WOMEN WITH DIABETES receive an eye exam before becoming pregnant
or in the ;rst trimester. Pregnancy can hasten the start or progression of
Go to diabetesforecast
learn more about
how to spot and