Retinopathy: help please!

Anyone who has seen my posts probably knows that I have a t1 husband as well as being t1 myself. He was diagnosed almost 40 years ago and has complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy and decreased kidney function. At the end of this month, he will likely start getting laser treatments for his retinopathy. I am a little freaked out by it, but am pushing pretty hard for him to do the laser treatments as a preemptive strike against the worst case scenario - loss of vision. 

As the person supporting him, what should I expect, what should I do or not do?  I know how to be the diabetic, and I know how to treat his lows, I don't know how to help him though this.

Are you on diabeticmommy.com? There was a post on their forum re this question a while back, so you can do a search if no one here has had the experience.

Good luck to your husband!

[quote user="Sarah"]

As the person supporting him, what should I expect, what should I do or not do?  I know how to be the diabetic, and I know how to treat his lows, I don't know how to help him though this.

[/quote]

hi Sarah,  I have had 2 laser sessions, because I have prolific, on-disc, diabetic retinopathy.  I havent had bleeders, but the "new blood vessels" were in danger of bleeding so I (after a diagnosis and a second opinion) decided on the laser treatment.

coagulative laser has been around for 25 years or more.  they dialte the crap out of your eyes, and then they shoot laser into areas that could bleed.  the laser coagulates blood and thereby cuts off circulation to those treated areas.  Peripheral laser treatment hurts a little.  Then after the treatment I put lubricating drops in my eyes for a few days, because they really burn after treatment.

If the treatment works, then you have no bleeding.  You will also have minor vision losses: spots, sometimes peripheral losses, etc.  The operative description is MINOR.  The treatment is worlds better than having a bleeding blood vessel which will destroy optic nerve cells and promote complete blindness, but it is not without it's faults.  I hope you husband's treatments are fast, effective,  and painless, and may you never have to face the same situation.

 

Starting in 1964 I had non-proliferative retinopathy in both eyes. I was not given any treatment for it, they just watched it. In 1994 it turned into proliferative retinopathy in the right eye, and a couple of weeks after the bleeding had stopped they used the laser to treat the blood vessels that had bled. There has been no recurrence of the bleeding since then, and I have continued my usual activities, like bicycle riding. After a bleed, until the laser treatment is given, the vision in the affected eye is compromised by the blood that gets mixed with the vitreous fluid that's supposed to be clear. The body will gradually absorb the blood and the vitreous fluid gets clear again.

You didn't mention any bleeding, so maybe there have been changes in the treatment of non-proliferative retinopathy that I'm not aware of. Since you are also a t1, you should try to be present with your husband for all appointments with the ophthalmologist (and the laser surgeon, if it's not the same person) so you can learn what might be in store for you. There's nothing I can think of that you need to do for your husband. I live alone and had no problems dealing with the laser surgery myself, except I think I had to get someone (or a taxi) to drive me home after the laser treatment, but I'm sure it was ok for me to drive the next day. 

I go to Mark's opthalmologist appointments with him.  A few years ago, I didn't go with him, but the office he visited wanted him to see another doctor.  They set up the appoint for him, but he wasn't able to tell me why they wanted him to see someone else.  I went to the next appointment with him and they told him that he had some spots and that he needed to see the other doctor.  When he did go, he was diagnosed with moderate to severe proliferative retinopathy and told he needed to come back every 6 months.  He cancelled his 6 month appointment and rescheduled it for a day off after 7 months.  In October it was increased to severe proliferative retinopathy, so the treatment will be preventative.  When I asked if there was any preventative measure that could be taken before there was a broken vessel.  That's when the laser treatments came up.  The doctor did not encourage or discourage this approach but did offer to start the first treatment that day.  Mark decided not to, but did follow through and make the 3 month appointment that was ordered, that will be January 28.  The opthalmologist also said that he would put money on him needing the treatments within the next year.  Literally, he said that.  It was a relief that he spoke that way because Mark doesn't listen very well or hear things the way I do.