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Laser Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. It affects blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye).

If you have advanced diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may use a type of laser treatment called scatter laser surgery as part of your treatment plan. In scatter laser surgery (sometimes called panretinal photocoagulation), your doctor will use a medical laser to shrink blood vessels in your eye that are causing vision problems.  

You may also need other treatments, like injections, in addition to laser treatments.

What can I expect from laser treatment?

You can get this laser treatment at your eye doctor’s office. Your eye doctor will: 

  • Put numbing medicine in your eye 
  • Aim a laser into your eye using a special lens 

During the treatment, you may see flashes of light and your eye may sting or feel uncomfortable. Your vision will be blurry for the rest of the day, so you’ll need someone to drive you home. You may need more than 1 session of scatter laser surgery. 

Is laser treatment right for me?

Like any surgery, this treatment has risks. It can cause loss of peripheral (side) vision, color vision, and night vision. But for many people, the benefits of this treatment outweigh the risks. 

Talk with your doctor to decide if scatter laser surgery is right for you. 

Last updated: February 2, 2022