Laser eye surgery treats a number of conditions. Different types of lasers can treat vision disorders, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Laser eye surgery for diabetic retinopathy can slow vision loss or even restore vision in some cases. Here's a look at how laser surgery is done to treat retinopathy.
How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes
One complication of diabetes is the effect it has on the tiny blood vessels in your eye. If your blood sugar is not controlled, the vessels may leak fluid or new vessels may grow. This can cause damage to the retina or macula due to fluid leaking and swelling. Diabetes also increases the risk for cataracts and glaucoma.
The goal of laser eye surgery for diabetic retinopathy is to control vessels around the retina to reduce the risk of retinal damage. Additional types of laser eye surgery can be done to treat diabetic problems with the macula, glaucoma, and cataracts.
How Laser Eye Surgery Works
Laser eye surgery for diabetic retinopathy is done in an eye clinic or your eye doctor's office as an outpatient procedure. You'll be resting comfortably in a reclining chair and you'll get eye drops that widen your pupils and numb your eye. The doctor puts in a contact lens that helps the laser focus properly and then they use a laser to zap the tiny vessels.
Your doctor can take different approaches for using the laser. They might target specific problematic vessels or use a scatter approach that hits many vessels during a single session. You might need more than one visit when you have this type of laser eye surgery done.
What To Expect After The Surgery
The drops you receive make your vision blurry so you might wear an eye patch after the treatment. You might have some eye discomfort, but you shouldn't experience pain. Your eye doctor gives you instructions for activities you should avoid during your recovery phase.
Certain types of vision problems might improve after you have laser eye surgery, but for the most part, laser surgery for diabetic retinopathy is intended to slow down vision loss.
To get the best results from the surgery, it's essential to keep your blood sugar under control or your vessels may start growing and leaking again. It's also important to keep regular visits with your eye doctor so they can monitor the progression of your vision loss. This helps the doctor choose just the right time to do laser surgery to protect your vision.