Treatments For DR

Not all diabetic retinopathy (DR) needs treatment, but when it does, it is personalized for each patient.1 Treatment for DR has been found to be extremely effective in preventing severe vision loss.2 Vision may improve with treatment, however, generally the better the vision is prior to treatment, the better the vision will be after treatment.3

Stages and treatments:1

  • Mild and moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) will be monitored with frequent follow up appointments with your eye doctor
  • Severe NPDR or proliferative retinopathy (PDR) will likely require prompt treatment
  • Diabetic macular edema (DME), which can occur at any stage of retinopathy, will likely require prompt treatment

Types of treatment:

  • Panretinal photocoagulation (PRP): A laser is used to make many small burns in the retina to reduce the likelihood of neovascularization of the retina.4
  • Focal Laser: A laser used to make one or a few small burns in the retina to treat damaged blood vessels.5
  • Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medication: This medication is injected into the eye to prevent blood vessels from leaking and prevent neovascularization.6 It is also used to decrease swelling from diabetic macular edema (DME).7
  • Corticosteroid medication: This medication is injected into the eye to reduce inflammation and swelling in the retina.1
  • Vitrectomy: A surgical treatment option for eyes with persistent vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding in the gel like tissue in front of the retina) or eyes with persistent disease despite medical, laser and injection treatment.1
Pain with eye injection is mild for the majority of people.12 There are medications to control pain when treatment with injection or laser is needed.12,13


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Scientific Council

Neil M. Bressler, MD

James P. Gills Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, MD

A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO

Specializing in Diabetes Eye Care & Education, Chous Eye Care Associates
Adjunct Professor of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences
AOA Representative, National Diabetes Education Program
Tacoma, WA

Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO

Chief of Optometry, Sepulveda VA Medical Center
Professor, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Sepulveda, CA

Julia A. Haller, MD

Wills Eye Hospital
Philadelphia, PA

Allen C. Ho, MD, FACS

Director, Retina Research
Wills Eye Hospital
Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology
Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
Philadelphia, PA

Charles C. Wykoff, MD, PhD

Director of Research, Retina Consultants of Houston
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Blanton Eye Institute & Houston Methodist Hospital
Houston, TX

Diabetes Educators Scientific and Educational Toolkit

The RELIEF Diabetes Educators Toolkit is an online resource that aims to provide clinically relevant information and various educational tools about the recognition and diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy (DR), treatment strategies, and resources to enhance collaborative eye care. Click on one of the options below to learn more about DR and ways to help maintain healthy vision in patients with diabetes.

This activity for Diabetic Retinopathy education is provided by Med Learning Group.
This activity is supported by an independent medical education grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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