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Retina Care

The practice of Hadi Zambarakji

Guide to Laser Treatment for Diabetic Eye Disease


Diabetic eye disease, a group of eye problems that affects those with diabetes, includes diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. The most common of these is diabetic retinopathy, which affects people aged eighteen and older. Diabetes can also affect your vision by causing cataracts and glaucoma.


Diabetic retinopathy can potentially severely affect the vision as a result of blood vessels inside the retina becoming damaged from the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. This leads to the leakage of fluids into the retina and the obstruction of blood flow.


More than one-third of those diagnosed with diabetes do not receive the recommended vision care and are at risk for vision loss. Often early symptoms are unnoticed, therefore your vision may not be affected until the disease is severe and less easily treatable. Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, schedule a complete dilated eye examination with your optometrist at least once a year or make an appointment with you Ophthalmologist promptly if you experience blurred vision and/or floaters.


In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment has been shown to reduce the chance of severe vision loss and blindness. Laser does not cure diabetic retinopathy or restore vision that has already been lost, nor does it prevent future vision loss, especially if diabetes or blood pressure is not well controlled.


If you have diabetes, you may get cataracts at a younger age and your chances of developing glaucoma are doubled.


Things to know prior to Laser Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy:

  • You may need multiple laser treatment sessions
  • Visual acuity may deteriorate despite laser treatment
  • Laser does not improve vision
  • Laser reduces the chances of severe visual loss in approximately 50% of patients
  • Laser is not usually painful, but some patients find this difficult to tolerate, in which case a local anaesthetic injection may be required prior to laser
  • We would recommend that you take 2 painkillers (paracetamol or ibuprofen) prior to laser treatment
  • Consent form is signed for laser to both eyes at the time of your first visit only, and indicates your consent for laser for a course of treatment whilst your are under the care of your Consultant Ophthalmologist.


Driving and laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy:

  • All patients who have received laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy should inform the DVLA
  • Laser for “proliferative diabetic retinopathy” may affect your peripheral visual fields. Your eligibility to drive may be affected by diabetic retinopathy or laser treatment
  • Approximately 10% of patients treated with “PAN RETINAL LASER” in BOTH eyes for “proliferative diabetic retinopathy” may lose their driving license


Please ask a member of staff or your Consultant should you need any additional information before laser.


Prepared by Mr. H.J. Zambarakji FRCOphth, D.M
Consultant Ophthalmic surgeon



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