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Laser Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may use a type of laser treatment called scatter laser surgery as part of your treatment plan. You may also need other treatments, like injections, in addition to laser treatments.

Scatter laser surgery (sometimes called panretinal photocoagulation) can help treat advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy. Your doctor will use lasers to shrink blood vessels in your eye that are causing vision problems.  

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 (a strong beam of light) 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. 

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: May 29, 2019