Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
Laser treatment of diabetic eye disease generally targets the damaged eye tissue. Some lasers treat leaking blood vessels directly by "spot welding" and sealing the area of leakage. Other lasers eliminate abnormal blood vessels that form from neovascularization.
The two types of laser treatments commonly used to treat significant diabetic eye disease are: 1) Focal or grid laser photocoagulation. 2) Scatter (panretinal) laser photocoagulation.
The NEI is conducting and supporting research that seeks better ways to detect, treat, and prevent vision loss in people with diabetes. This research is being conducted in labs and clinical centers across the country.