What to Expect When Getting Laser Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Dr. Amit Gupta, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist, talks about what patients can expect when coming in to get laser eye treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

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Dr. Amit Gupta, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist, talks about what patients can expect when coming in to get laser eye treatment for diabetic retinopathy.
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Featuring Amit Gupta, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

For diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment, which is the conventional treatment, is used for multiple reasons. There is laser that is done around the edges of the eye, and what you can expect is that you’ll put in a machine called a slit lamp—very much the same as the machine you have your eyes examined in. So something that’s familiar to most people if they’ve had an eye exam.

A drop of anesthetic is put in your eye, and then a contact lens is placed on the eye to help control blinking and the direction. It allows the doctor to look into the eye. Inside the eye the doctor will place very controlled, fine spots measured in 100, 200, 300 micron sizes, with controlled amount of laser for a very short duration.

These look like a flash of light, that goes into the eye. The biggest part that the patients find difficult is the brightness of the light, but it is not a damaging light. The light goes in, it makes a small cauterization if you will, in the back of the retina, in the areas in which the retina is already not working well.

It is like pruning a tree, and you get rid of the branches that you don’t want to help the rest of the tree survive. In the same way, you apply the laser to parts of the retina that are not working well, to help the rest of the retina survive better.

Another kind of laser that can be done is called focal laser, which is done closer to the centre of vision. It is done in the same kind of setup, in that you have anesthetic put in the eye, you have a contact lens put on the eye, and then the doctor looks in and there’s flashes of light. There are fewer spots this way and has to be done more gently for very specific reasons: to control leakage that is causing vision loss.

A better alternative to the laser would be the injections, as they are less risky for the centre part of the vision. However, sometimes it is necessary to add this laser in addition to the injections, or when injections are not available.

For more information about laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy, talk to your eye doctor.

Presenter: Dr. Amit Gupta, Ophthalmologist, Scarborough, ON

Local Practitioners: Ophthalmologist

Quiz: Do You Understand What to Expect When Getting Laser Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy? ( 17 participated.)

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:

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Laser treatment is an unconventional treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

1

The hardest part for patients during the procedure is pain.

2

A drop of anesthetic is put in your eye, and then a contact lens is placed on the eye to help control blinking and the direction.

3

Laser treatment targets the parts of the retina that are not working well, to help the rest of the retina survive.

4

Intravitreal injections are a better alternative to laser treatment.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.