How does laser help in diabetic retinopathy?
Laser therapy is one of the most important and is one of the most widely used techniques.
In the early or non-proliferative stages the laser is used to seal leaking areas from the blood vessels. The laser produces a tiny scar that helps seal the leak. This type of therapy is usually called as Focal laser therapy.
In the later or proliferative stage the laser is used to produce many small burns (2000-4000) at the edges of the retina. This is known as Paretinal laser therapy. The aim of this treatment is to stop growth of abnormal vessels. This form of laser therapy works by increasing the oxygen supply to the retina.
How is laser treatment carried out?
Laser treatment is an outpatient procedure.
You will be seated on a stool, resting your chin on a support. The doctor will be sitting behind the machine. A contact lens will be put to direct the laser beam to the correct places. During the treatment you may hear clicking noise, which are due to the use of the footswitch. The treatment is usually painless and does not cause any discomfort. The treatment can take from 10-60 minutes depending on the procedure being performed. Because of the brightness of the laser beam there may be a mild dazzle effect, which will last for 30-60 minutes.
It is recommended that someone accompany you for the procedure. After the treatment, there may be some redness or watering for a day or two, and does not require any treatment.
How many sitting will I need?
You may need anywhere from 1 to 4 sittings depending on the type of procedure being done.
Will my vision improve after laser treatment?There may be temporary reduction in vision following the treatment. Vision usually returns to the level present before the procedure in a few days to weeks.
However, laser therapy can only stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy. It cannot reverse vision changes that have already occurred.
What can I do to stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy?
Control of blood sugar levels: uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes can speed up diabetic changes in the eye. Similarly, well-controlled diabetes can delay or even stop the early stages from progressing to the late stages.
Co-existing high blood pressure can speed up diabetic changes in the eye, so blood pressure also should be keep under controlled.
Stop smoking: smoking causes spasm of the blood vessels, which can aggravate the diabetic changes in the eye.
Have regular eye checkups.