Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Treating diabetic retinopathy

Larger text

To increase the text size on this page, click the green "+" button at the top right of the page until the text is big enough.

If you have diabetic retinopathy you may need to see a specialist eye doctor (an ophthalmologist) for ongoing care.

Treatment doesn't cure diabetic retinopathy. It doesn't usually restore your vision to what it was before. But, it can slow down the damage and stop new damage from happening. It is very important that you get good control over your blood glucose (sugar), as this can reduce any further damage.

Laser treatment

Laser treatment seals leaking blood vessels in your retina.If diabetic retinopathy is threatening your vision, laser treatment may be an option.

The laser seals leaking blood vessels in your retina. It also stops fragile, abnormal blood vessels from growing. These blood vessels may bleed and suddenly reduce your sight.

Focal laser treatment is when the laser can treat just one spot, such as the macula.

Panretinal photocoagulation (pan-re-tin-al foto-co-ag-u-lay-shun) is laser treatment used more widely in the retina. This helps to slow down or stop any further damage.


Medicines such as Avastin (bevacizumab), Lucentis (ranibizumab), and Eylea (aflibercept) can help. They reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels and the amount of fluid leaking from them.

These medicines can be injected into your eye, after it is numbed with local anaesthetic. This treatment is especially useful if the retinopathy is affecting your macula. Your macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for fine, detailed vision.

You may have just one injection, or you may need several injections.

This video from the Canterbury DHB Eye Outpatients Department shows a patient's experience with eye injections.

Note: The video shows a person having injections in their eyes and some people might find this disturbing.


If you have advanced diabetic eye disease and severe loss of vision, you may need retinal surgery. If you have this surgery, you may need to stay in hospital overnight.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by Canterbury optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2019.


Page reference: 139221

Review key: HIDYE-139181