Proliferative Retinopathy (PR) refers to the advanced type of retinopathy. When retinopathy reaches this stage, delicate vessels of blood starts to develop in the retina going to the vitreous (the gel-like substance that found at the back of the eye). These new vessels of blood may make blood to leak into the vitreous making vision cloudy.
There are many health and eye care facilities in the United States that are committed to providing excellent high quality care and treatment for proliferative retinopathy. However, you need to travel to these centers. While most insurance service providers cover medical expenses, they do not cover travel costs. You therefore need to plan well for your travel so that you maintain the costs at the minimum.
If you already know the facility where you are going for proliferative retinopathy treatment, consultation or second opinion, you can go ahead and plan your travel. Otherwise, you can consult our list of facilities that offer specialized proliferative retinopathy treatments. In case you are unable to arrange for your own travel expenses, you can consult our directory of charitable organizations that help in arrangement of cost-free travel for medical reasons.
About Proliferative Retinopathy
Proliferative retinopathy is the most highly developed phase of diabetic retinopathy. This is characterized by the unprompted growth of new blood vessels that are more delicate than the normal ones found on the retina and are more susceptible to bleeding and breaking. These fragile blood vessels also have fibrous scarring and develop out of the retina itself towards vitreous humor. If these vessels bleed or pull on the retina, blindness can ensure causing a detachment of the retina. Similar fibrovascular growth may occur on the colored iris infront of the eye. Due to neovascular glaucoma, this can also cause loss of sight.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
- Seeing spots or floaters
- Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty seeing well at night
For people with diabetes, long periods of high blood sugar can cause fluid to accumulate in the lens that controls focus. This interferes with the lens curvature resulting in blurred vision. But when the blood sugar levels are controlled back to normal, this blurred distance vision becomes better. Individuals suffering from diabetes but can control their blood sugar levels will delay the beginning and development of diabetic retinopathy.
During the first stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are no signs of visual complications. This is the reason that American Optometric Association advises that all individuals suffering from diabetes have comprehensive dilated eye assessment once annually. Early treatment works against the potential for significant loss of vision as a result of diabetic retinopathy.
Causes of Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is caused as a result of the damages caused by diabetes to the small blood vessels in the retina. These damages can cause loss of vision;
- Fluid can leak affecting the macula. Macula is the part of the retina that ensures clear central sight. This is the small area of the retina that allows color vision and details sight. Leaked fluid causes swelling of the macula that results in blurred sight.
- To try and improve circulation of blood in the retina, other blood vessels can develop on the surface of the retina. These new abnormal and fragile vessels can cause blood to leak in the back of the eye thereby blocking vision.
Where to Go for Proliferative Retinopathy Treatment
There are many healthcare centers in the United States where patients can go for proliferative retinopathy treatments. These hospitals have the latest treatment technologies and competent experienced members of staff and support professionals. Among the best of the hospitals that offer treatments and care for proliferative retinopathy includes the following;
- Virginia Mason
Professionals in this hospital have decades of treatment experience, providing services to patients suffering from both diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. The center was the first in West Coast to offer insulin, as an all-inclusive treatment method to people with diabetes.
Treatment of Proliferative Retinopathy
Comprehensive examination of the eye is needed in the diagnosis of proliferative retinopathy. These examinations involve putting emphasis on the macula and retina, that may include the following;
- Looking at the medical history of the patient to determine difficulties in vision, existence of diabetes, as well as other medical concerns that may be having an effect on vision.
- Measurements of visual acuity to understand how much of the central vision has been lost.
- Refraction in order to check whether the patient needs new eye glasses.
- Assessment of the ocular structures and retina through the dilated pupil.
- Eye pressure measurements.
Once the diagnosis of the diseases has been done, there are several treatment methods that can be used. These include the following;
- Laser treatment also called photocoagulation: this is used to curd the leakage of fluids and blood into the retina. A laser beam is used to create little burns in the retina area that has abnormal blood vessels in order to stop the leakages.
Treatment options usually depend on the disease stages. The aim of treatment is to slow or arrest the development and progress of the condition. Regular monitoring may be the only treatment option for the early stages of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Proper diet, exercises and blood sugar control can be good for arresting the disease progress.
- Extensive growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, characteristic of proliferative retinopathy, can be treated through creating a system of scattered laser across the retina. This method makes the vessels to shrink and disappear. This may result in the loss of side vision but protect central vision.
- Medications can be used to decrease eye inflammations or arrest the formation of abnormal blood vessels.
- Surgical procedure can be required by patients with advanced proliferative retinopathy. This is done to remove and replace vitreous. It may also be done to do repairs of retinal detachment.
Risks Associated with Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
- Diabetes: Patients suffering from (types 1 or 2) diabetes can develop proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The longer the period that the patient has had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This is especially if the disease is not properly controlled.
- Race: African Americans and Hispanics have higher risks of developing the disease.
- Pregnancy: Expectant mothers have increased risks of developing both diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. If a mother develops gestational diabetes, the risks of developing diabetes as she gets older, increases.
- Other medical conditions: The presence of other medical conditions increases the risks of getting the disease. These conditions include high cholesterol and hypertension.
Who Can Go for Proliferative Retinopathy Treatment
Patients suffering from diabetes are most likely to develop proliferative retinopathy. These patients should plan well ahead in order to have treatment in the early stages of the condition. Other people at risk of getting the disease such as black Americans and Hispanics should have regular medical examinations to monitor the onset of the condition. Pregnant women especially those suffering from gestational diabetes should go for the examination to rule out the onset of proliferative retinopathy. Those patients with other severe medical conditions should also go for tests.