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Retinopathy, causes and treatments

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Retinopathy is a disease of the blood vessels in the retina. There are several types of retinopathies. An estimated 30,000 people are affected by retinopathy pigmentosa, while half of patients with type 2 diabetes are affected by diabetic retinopathy .

Retinopathy pigmentosa: a complex genetic disease

Retinopathy pigmentosa is a group of genetic diseases . They are characterized by the progressive loss of photoreceptors and dysfunction of the pigment epithelium . A fundus is necessary to detect them.

As this is a degenerative disease, the most serious cases lead to blindness . This can occur after several years. It is primarily night vision and the visual field that are affected, the latter shrinking year after year.

Patients also develop photophobia , namely extreme sensitivity to the light. It is important, as soon as these symptoms appear, to consult an ophthalmologist.

An orthoptist can also help learn new gaze strategies to optimize residual vision, while an optician will advise a suitable device for the condition.

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retinal vessels

Today, this pathology has no effective treatment. But research continues to advance and some avenues allow us to keep hope.

Among them, optogenetics is a recommended solution. This technique would make it possible to reintroduce electrical activity into the retina in order to restore the functions of the photoreceptors. This is notably the daily work of the Institut de la Vision , under the direction of Doctor Serge Picaud.

Retinal transplantation, among the treatments that could prove to be effective, may be a solution. A first step was taken in 2017 by a French team, which succeeded in carrying out a first transplant of cells derived from stem cells allowing the regeneration of certain cells of the retina

A consequence of diabetes

Diabetes is excess sugar in the blood. The presence of non-genetic retinopathy is very often attributable to this disease. This is called diabetic retinopathy . It affects about half of patients with type 2 diabetes.

Retinopathy Diabetic

It is also the leading cause of blindness in people under 65 in France. Yet with increased surveillance, it can be avoided. It is therefore important to advise type 2 patients to get tested very regularly.

Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with panretinal photocoagulation. It is a laser treatment that destroys damaged vessels. At an advanced stage, this treatment will prove ineffective, and a surgical operation called vitrectomy will be required to replace the vitreous body inside the eye.

But this operation does not, however, restore the old visual acuity . It will only limit the damage caused by the disease.