A: Laser can be used two ways to treat diabetic retinopathy. First, macular edema [thickening or swelling] can be treated to help prevent vision loss. The 3 year risk of moderate vision loss can be reduced from 30% to 12% with appropriate treatment. Second, proliferative diabetic retinopathy [growth of abnormal vessels] can be treated to help prevent bleeding, scarring, & retinal detachment. The 5-year risk of severe vision loss can be reduced from 60% to less than 5% with appropriate treatment. Patients may need treatment before they experience vision loss, so early detection is crucial. See your eye doctor regularly.