Diabetes causes damage to blood vessels throughout the body. Loss of vision can occur due to leakage of fluid from damaged blood vessels within the retina (the thin layer of nerve tissue that lines the back wall of the eye). The excess fluid within the retina causes it to swell macular edema and malfunction so that light images cannot be interpreted as sharply by the brain. Thus the vision becomes blurred.

Areas of leakage within the retina can be treated with LASER therapy in an effort to decrease the vision loss. The procedure is done in the office while the patient is seated at a microscope. The retina specialist will use a special contact lens that is temporarily placed on the eye for the procedure. Most procedures last less than 5 minutes. The surgeon maintains control of the laser throughout the procedure so there is very little risk of subjecting the fovea (the most sensitive part of the retina) to laser. Patients usually feel little or no sensation except for noticing the flash of the laser.

The vision may be transiently blurred following the procedure due to a "dazzling" effect from the bright lights. The vision returns to normal within a few minutes. Occasionally the laser will be used in combination with other forms of treatment. Your retina specialist will decide this based on the specific location and degree of the macular swelling. A follow up appointment will be made to ascertain the response to the therapy.