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Retinal Focal Laser

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Focal laser is a procedure used to treat leaking blood vessels and edema (fluid buildup) in the retina. The laser creates heat that seals the vessels and vaporizes fluid in the area. Tissues in the retina also become thinner. The area of leaking vessels is smaller, creating less fluid buildup. Focal laser treatment will not give you back lost vision, but it can keep vision loss from getting worse. Diabetic macular edema is the most common condition focal laser is used to treat.

Eye Anatomy

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You suddenly cannot see.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your vision seems covered by a dark curtain.
  • You have severe eye pain.
  • You have more trouble seeing.

Call your doctor or ophthalmologist if:

  • You have new or worsening vision problems.
  • You continue to have a headache after 2 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Do not drive, as directed:

Your vision may be affected for several days. Ask someone to drive you until your healthcare provider says it is okay to drive.

Protect your vision:

  • Get an eye exam as often as directed. Eye exams are usually done every few months to monitor diabetic macular edema. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to have eye exams. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye problems may prevent permanent vision damage.
  • Manage health conditions that can cause vision problems. Common examples include diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Follow up with healthcare providers who manage these conditions.
  • Wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can damage your eyes and increase your risk for vision loss.
  • Eat foods that contain eye-healthy nutrients. Healthy nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They can be found in foods such as spinach, kale, collard greens, fish, and vegetable oils. Ask your healthcare provider for a full list of foods that contain eye-healthy nutrients. You may need to take a vitamin or supplement to help you get enough of these nutrients.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can help control your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels in your eyes. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit.

Follow up with your doctor or ophthalmologist as directed:

Your eyes will be checked to make sure the area was fully treated. Another treatment can be done after a few months, if needed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.