Diabetic Retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is a complication of diabetes caused by changes in the blood vessels of the eye. If you have diabetes, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels create changes in the veins, arteries and capillaries that carry blood throughout the body. This includes the tine blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer that lines the back of the eye.

RetinopothyIn PDR, the retinal blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, the retina grows new, fragile blood vessels. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are abnormal and grow on the surface of the retina, so they do not resupply the retina with blood.

Occasionally, these new blood vessels bleed and cause a vitreous hemorrhage. Blood in the vitreous, the clear gel-like substance that fills in the inside of the eye, blocks light rays from reaching the retina. A small amount of blood will cause dark floaters, while a large hemorrhage might block all vision, leaving only light and dark perception. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. The scar tissue shrinks, wrinkling and pulling on the retina and distorting vision. If the pulling is severe, the macula may detach from its normal position and cause vision loss.


Pan-Retinal Photocoagulation, or PRP (also called scatter laser treatment), is used to treat proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina) is caused by complications of diabetes, which can eventually lead to blindness.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which abnormal new blood vessels may rupture and bleed inside the eye. With this advanced stage of retinopathy, Pan-Retinol Photocoagulation is the recommended treatment.

Reduce the risk of severe vision loss by 50%

Dr. DiStefano performs Pan-Retinol Photocoagulation as an outpatient procedure. Small burns are used to destroy the abnormal blood vessels that form in the retina. It has been shown to reduce the risk of severe vision loss by 50%.

Before beginning the laser treatment, Dr. DiStefano dilates the pupil and applies anesthetic drops to numb the eye. During the procedure, you may see flashes of light and experience some stinging. Vision may remain blurry for the rest of the day and you are advised not to drive while pupils are dilated. Pain should be minimal.

As with any procedures, there are risks, which the staff at DiStefano Eye Center will discuss with you. Proper and vigilant treatment and monitoring of the eyes can significantly reduce the effects of proliferative retinopathy. There is a risk for new bleeding and glaucoma, so ongoing examinations with Dr. DiStefano are highly recommended.

For an appointment, call DiStefano Eye Center at (423) 648-3937. Or click here to contact us online.