People with diabetes should be examined regularly to be sure that
neovascularization is not developing. When neovascularization
does develop, if the amount is not severe, laser surgery is not
necessary as long as the patient is examined regularly.
amount of neovascularization is great, laser surgery can often
prevent loss of vision. The type of laser surgery that is done
when there is a lot of neovascularization is called panretinal
laser photocoagulation. This type of laser surgery is usually
done in two or more separate sessions. The idea is to use the
laser to destroy all of the dead areas of retina where the blood
vessels have been closed. When these areas are treated with the
laser, the retina stops manufacturing new blood vessels, and
those that are already present tend to decrease or disappear.
There are side effects of panretinal laser photocoagulation and,
for this reason, this surgery is not done when only a small
amount of neovascularization is present. It is important to
remember, however, that when the amount is great enough to
warrant laser surgery, the longer the eye remains untreated the
more likely vision will be lost and blindness will occur. The
earlier severe neovascularization is discovered and the eye is
treated with laser the more likely blindness can be prevented.
If you have developed neovascularization, your doctor will advise
you about when panretinal laser photocoagulation should be done.
Panretinal laser photocoagulation does not improve vision, however, it is
the best possible means of holding vision stable to prevent
further loss. After laser surgery, patients may still have
reduced vision or may continue to lose more vision. But if
panretinal laser photocoaculation is indicated, the chances are
that it will prevent severe loss of vision.
photocoagulation is placed on the side (periphery) of the retina,
not on the center, and side (peripheral) vision will definitely be
diminished to some extent. These side areas are sacrificed in
order to save as much of the central vision as possible and to
save the eye itself. Night vision will also be diminished.
After laser, blurred vision is very common. Usually, this blur
goes away, but in a small number of patients, some blur will
Because diabetic retinopathy can occur at any
time, the patient who is treated with laser for either NPDR or
PDR should have regular retinal examinations by an eye