What is the role of laser photocoagulation in the management of diabetic retinopathy?

Updated: Sep 02, 2021
  • Author: Abdhish R Bhavsar, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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The advent of laser photocoagulation in the 1960s and early 1970s provided a noninvasive treatment modality that has a relatively low complication rate and a significant degree of success. This involves directing a high-focused beam of light energy to create a coagulative response in the target tissue. In nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment is indicated in the treatment of clinically significant macular edema. The strategy for treating macular edema depends on the type and extent of vessel leakage.

If the edema is due to leakage of specific microaneurysms, the leaking vessels are treated directly with focal laser photocoagulation. [16] In cases where the foci of leakage are nonspecific, a grid pattern of laser burns is applied. Medium intensity burns (100-200 µm) are placed 1 burn-size apart, covering the affected area. Other off-label potential treatments of diabetic macular edema include intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide (Kenalog) and bevacizumab; these medications can result in a substantial reduction or resolution of macular edema.

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