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Eye and Vision Care

Alternatives to Laser Surgery

09/14/2009

Question:

I was wondering if there is an alternative to remove scarring caused by diabetic retinopathy other than laser?

Also clould laser surgery (diabetic laser surgery) and removal of a cataract could be done all in the same aetting? Or would that be too much trauma to the eye?

Answer:

No, for both questions...and I want to explain why.

Retinal laser therapy for diabetic retinopathy only works (that is, it only prevents future vision loss in the treated eye and does not restore vision already lost) because the resultant scar tissue lowers the retina's normal metabolism. Scar tissue reduces the need for maximum oxygen in the retinal tissue, which also reduces the chemical stimulus for new blood vessel growth and secondary hemorrhage. It's like in a game of chess, where you may sacrifice a pawn (side vision) to save the queen (central vision). 

Retinal laser surgery and cataract surgery are performed by two different ophthalmology specialists. The retinal procedure should be done first to minimize bleeding and edema (swelling) during cataract surgery.

Thanks for two great questions!

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University