Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
During the first three stages of diabetic retinopathy, treatment is not needed unless the person has macular edema. In the case of proliferative retinopathy, a procedure called scatter laser treatment is used to shrink abnormal blood vessels. Other treatment options include a surgical procedure known as a vitrectomy.
Unless you have macular edema, no treatment is required during the first three stages of diabetic retinopathy. However, to prevent progression of the disease, people with diabetes should control their levels of:
Proliferative retinopathy is treated with laser surgery. This procedure is called scatter laser treatment. Scatter laser treatment helps to shrink the abnormal blood vessels. Your doctor places 1,000 to 2,000 laser burns in the areas of the retina away from the macula, causing the abnormal blood vessels to shrink.
If the bleeding is severe, you may need a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, blood is removed from the center of your eye.
Because a high number of laser burns are necessary, two or more sessions usually are required to complete this treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Although you may notice some loss of your side vision, scatter laser treatment can save the rest of your sight. This procedure may slightly reduce your color vision and night vision.
Scatter laser treatment works better before the fragile, new blood vessels have started to bleed. That is why it is important to have regular, comprehensive dilated eye exams. Even if bleeding has started, scatter laser treatment may still be possible, depending on the amount of bleeding.
This procedure is performed in your doctor's office or eye clinic. Before the surgery, your healthcare provider will dilate your pupil and apply drops to numb the eye. The area behind your eye also may be numbed to prevent discomfort.
The lights in the office will be dim. As you sit facing the laser machine, your doctor will hold a special lens to your eye. During the procedure, you may see flashes of light. These flashes eventually may create a stinging sensation that can be uncomfortable.
You will need someone to drive you home after surgery. Because your pupil will remain dilated for a few hours, you should bring a pair of sunglasses.
For the rest of the day, your vision will probably be a little blurry. If your eye hurts, your doctor can suggest treatment.