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Wills Eye retina doctors are leading experts in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy with the latest clinical trials and new therapeutic approaches for this disease.

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Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments

Medicines injected into the eye such as anti-VEGF drugs (eg. Lucentis, Eylea, Vabysmo, and Avastin) and steroids (eg. Triamcinolone, Ozudex, and Iluvien) are now commonly used to treat diabetic macular edema and some of the proliferative manifestations of the condition. The anti-VEGF agents are generally considered first line therapy for treating most cases. Repeat injections may be necessary for long-term control of the retinopathy.


People with diabetic retinopathy may require vitrectomy surgery in an operating room setting. A vitrectomy is performed when there is bleeding or retinal traction that is causing loss of vision in people with advanced diabetic retinopathy. In this surgical procedure, small instruments are inserted into the eye under microscopic visualization, and both the vitreous hemorrhage and any scar tissue are removed. Laser photocoagulation may be performed at the time of surgery, and in some cases, a gas bubble or silicone oil may be placed to hold the retina in position if there are retinal holes or detachment. The prognosis for people who require vitrectomy surgery depends upon the status of the underlying retina.


Laser photocoagulation is a well-established treatment for diabetic retinopathy. A laser delivers a split-second burst of intense light energy to treat leaky retinal blood vessels or promote shrinkage of abnormal blood vessels (neovascularization). Laser photocoagulation has been proven in large clinical trials to significantly reduced the risk of both moderate and severe vision loss in people with diabetic retinopathy.
In general, laser treatments are intended to stabilize or prevent progression of various diabetic retinopathy complications and may or may not result in any noticeable vision improvement. The best results with the best chances of preserving a good level of vision are achieved with optimal sugar control and early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy-related problems. Lastly, laser treatments may not work in everyone and other treatments (below) may be needed.