Visual Assistance and Diabetic Retinopathy Aids

During the early stage of diabetic retinopathy no visual aid may be necessary as there is often no visible change or loss in vision. However as diabetic retinopathy progresses, or should macular edema occur, treatment and vision assistive tools may be necessary for utilizing remaining vision.

Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is presented in 4 stages. During the first 3 stages no treatment may be necessary (with the exception of macular edema, which may occur at any stage). It is important regardless of the stage of diabetic retinopathy for individuals with diabetes to control their levels of blood sugar, pressure, and cholesterol. The fourth stage may be treated with laser surgery treatment called Scatter. This treatment uses 1,000 to 2,000 laser burns to shrink abnormal blood vessels. Scatter laser surgery usually requires two or more sessions to complete the treatment and will not restore vision, however will preserve most of the remaining vision. As a result of the treatment, slight loss of color and night vision may occur.
If blood in the center of the eye has occurred, a vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous gel clouded with blood) may be preformed. Once the gel is removed, the area is replaced with a salt-water solution.

It is particularly important for individuals with diabetic retinopathy to have regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams to prevent advance diabetic retinopathy from developing into blindness. Preserving the remaining vision along with the assistance of vision enhancing diabetic retinopathy aids will help gain and maintain visual independence.

What to look for in Diabetic Retinopathy Aids

When searching for diabetic retinopathy aids, finding devices that provide additional lighting, viewing choices (such as vertical and horizontal screen), focus adjustment/magnification power, and color contrast options are all great features for visual support. Some diabetic retinopathy aids, like an electronic magnifier, can be carried in a pocket or a purse and offer powerful magnification, lighting, and image capture, which is helpful when viewing a menu for individuals with central loss of vision. With a feature like image capture, the information being viewed can be captured on the screen and displayed like a photograph, allowing the user to move the device displaying the image, to where peripheral sight can gather the magnified information. Larger diabetic retinopathy aids such as a desktop magnifier provide more hands-free visual assistance, geared at home and office usage. When deciding upon which diabetic retinopathy aid is right for you, determine what your primary use of the device will be, explore the features available and the ease of use of each aid, seek product feedback, and discuss with your eye-care specialist the available products for diabetic retinopathy aids.