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Laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy

Find out how the procedure works and if it’s right for you

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic eye disease that involves damage to the retina – the light-sensitive part at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy usually only affects those people who have had diabetes for several years.  

As diabetes becomes worse, high blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, which can break, bleed (hemorrhage), and leak fluid. All forms of diabetic eye disease can potentially cause severe vision loss.  

Diabetic macular oedema (also known as diabetic oedema) is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy in the UK. Diabetic oedema involves a swelling of fluid in an area of the retina called the macula, which controls central vision. Around half of all people with diabetic retinopathy will develop diabetic oedema.

Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema typically have no early warning signs until they start affecting vision. Bleeding from diabetic retinopathy may cause blurred vision. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, common symptoms may include:

  • Seeing small spots ‘floating’ in your vision (floaters);
  • Blurred or distorted central vision;
  • Impaired colour vision and
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision.

Lasers can be used to treat new, abnormal blood vessels at the back of the eye caused by diabetic retinopathy. These weak blood vessels might be causing blood to seep into the eye.   

You will be given a local anaesthetic along with eye drops to dilate your pupils and a special contact lens to hold your eye open. Your surgeon will focus a laser onto your retina to carry out the treatment – it should take between 20 and 40 minutes.   

Laser treatment should help to stabilise your condition and prevent further vision problems. You might need more than one session for the best results.

Laser treatment is an outpatient procedure, meaning you should be able to go home the same day – although you will not be able to drive home. You might feel some discomfort in your eyes, along with blurry vision and increased sensitivity to light. These should improve with time – speak to your doctor if they don’t get better or get worse.   

As with any eye operation, there is the possibility of reduced vision as a result. This is not desired, of course, but uncontrolled diabetic retinopathy can lead to reduction in vision. The decision to carry out laser treatment is always a balance of risk versus benefit for the individual patient.  

Our 500 trusted eyecare experts offer personalised care at over 40 BMI Healthcare centres across the UK.   

Our experts in affordable eye care offer fast access to treatment in a safe and comfortable environment.   

Your laser treatment will provide the best possible outcome, along with excellent value for money, to help improve your quality of life.

What you pay will depend on the exact treatment you need. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation.
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