Our vision is dependent on the health of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Poorly managed or advanced cases of diabetes can cause the blood vessels on the retina to swell and leak fluid, leading to vision loss. In fact, the condition, known as diabetic retinopathy, is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is treatable. Retinal specialists Dr. Sean Lalin offers advanced treatment for diabetics whose vision has been compromised. Cutting-edge laser photocoagulation is available at our Morristown, Hackettstown, and Phillipsburg locations. This safe, effective treatment option can dramatically slow vision loss, and one of our doctors can determine whether it is right for you during an evaluation at our practice. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Laser Treatment Considerations
Currently, no treatment has been found to be effective at restoring vision lost to diabetic retinopathy. Instead, treatment is meant to protect a patient's existing vision. For this reason, early intervention and treatment are extremely important. Laser surgery, like other methods, aims to slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels and seal those that have already begun leaking. After treatment, most patients will achieve stabilized vision and preserve their remaining eyesight. Timely laser surgery and appropriate follow-up care has been found to reduce patients' risk of becoming blind by 90 percent. Depending on your condition and the progress of your disease, your doctor will recommend one of two surgical methods: focal or scatter photocoagulation.
For both types of laser treatment, precisely controlled heat is used to cauterize, or seal, leaking blood vessels. During the focal photocoagulation procedure, the surgeon treats only specific blood vessels that are found to be leaking. Treatment is isolated to a small area, usually the macula, or center of the retina. By targeting individual blood vessels, a limited number of laser burns can be used.
During scatter, or pan-retinal, photocoagulation, a wider area of the retina will be exposed to the laser. This technique is most effective at slowing the growth of new abnormal blood vessels. Hundreds of tiny laser burns may be needed, and two or more treatment sessions may be recommended.
What to Expect During Your Procedure
Laser surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you will not need to stay at our facility overnight. Although patients typically describe no more than a slight stinging during treatment, a local or topical anesthetic will be used to numb the eye. Eyedrops will be used to dilate your pupils and you can expect to see brief flashes of light as the laser is activated. You will need to protect your dilated eyes by wearing sunglasses in the hours following your procedure. We also suggest that patients come to our office with a friend or family member who can drive them home after treatment. You may experience some slight discomfort and blurred vision for a day or two after your procedure, but during check-up appointments, your doctor can ensure your healing is progressing free of complications.
Learn More at Our Practice
Early treatment is the best way to protect your vision against the effects of diabetes. To learn more about your diabetic retinopathy treatment options, schedule an appointment at our practice today.