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Diabetic retinopathy is a medical condition that is a complication of diabetes and it affects the eyes of the patient. As diabetes damages the blood vessels, those in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (or the retina) may become affected. The resulting lessening of the blood flow to the eye may cause vision problems, or, in the worst cases, complete blindness.
This complication can occur with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the chances of it developing grow bigger the longer the patient has diabetes and with less control of the blood sugar.
The major cause of the diabetic retinopathy is diabetes, as the name suggests. The way in which it develops is that, due to too much sugar in the blood, the tiny blood vessels in the eye become blocked. Once this happens, and there is little or no flow of blood to the eye, the eye tries to grow new blood vessels to restore the supply of blood. However, these new blood vessels are usually weak and prone to leakage. Because of this, two types of diabetic retinopathy can develop:
- Early Diabetic Retinopathy or Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy – In this case, the eye does not start growing new blood vessels, while the usual ones become blocked. Due to the blockage, tiny bulges form on the outside of these blood vessels which can sometimes leak fluids and blood into the retina. Larger retinal vessels can also dilate. As more and more vessels become blocked, sometimes it may affect the nerve fibers in the retina and the central part of the retina (called macula), both of which might start swelling, as well.
- Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy – Once the retinopathy progresses further, complete blockage of blood vessels can occur. At this point, the eye starts to create new blood vessels in the retina, but these can start leaking into the eye and the clear, jelly-like substance in the center of it. Also, new blood vessels can cause the detachment of the retina from the back of your eye and prevent the normal flow of fluid in the eye. In these cases, there might be a pressure build-up in the eyeball, which can damage the nerves which are carrying the images from the eye to the brain, causing blindness and glaucoma.
There are also risk factors regarding the development of diabetic retinopathy and those are:
The symptoms might not be present with early onset of the diabetic retinopathy, but as the condition progresses, the symptoms may include:
The diabetic retinopathy indiscriminately affects both eyes.
Before, there were three procedures used to help with diabetic retinopathy: laser surgery, vitrectomy and injections of synthetic glucocorticoid into the eye. However, all these treatments could do was provide a relief from the symptoms, but not heal the condition completely, and the symptoms and the conditions would return in full force at a later date.
Lately, with the improvement in the field of stem cells, it has become possible to apply these cells to heal the blood vessels in the eye by providing the impetus for their repair. The stem cells take form of whichever cells are the closest to them, and the doctors can use this trait to encourage the growth of new healthy blood vessels.
The treatment starts by collecting bone marrow stem cells from some other part of your body, usually the hip or tibia. By using autologous stem cells (the ones harvested from the patient’s own body) the doctors minimize the risk of the cells being rejected by the body or triggering an allergic reaction. The stem cells then go for preparation (which, depending on the case, can take a few days, up to a few weeks). Once they are prepared, the doctors inject the prepared cells through a non-invasive IV procedure into the ocular cavity. The stem cells then create new blood vessels and even repair any nerve damage that occurred due to retinopathy over time.
The benefits of choosing Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetic Retinopathy
The cost of Stem Cell Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy
As with all other types of stem cell treatments, there is no singular price available. The average price for a treatment is somewhere around $10,000, although the prices can vary from $2,000 to $20,000. As stem cell treatment is still a budding field, there is no standardization of prices. Instead, they vary on a clinic to clinic basis. In places where the costs or living and medical expenses are lower, it might be possible to find cheaper therapies.
Choosing the right clinic and treatment
Informing yourself about the particular treatment that you have in mind is crucial for any therapy, not just stem cell ones. Find out who the doctor who performs the therapy is and check as much as you can about him/her. The main thing to look for is whether they have had any experience with stem cell treatments before, and specifically with stem cell treatments for knee arthritis. Also, read up on the patient testimonials and, if possible, get in contact with someone who has already gone through this procedure. This will give you a clearer picture of whether or not you should choose a particular clinic and a particular doctor.
If you are already suffering from diabetic retinopathy and want to know how stem cell therapy can help you, feel free to contact us and find out more.
Stem Cell Therapy Abroad