Subthreshold diode laser micropulse photocoagulation for the treatment of diabetic macular edema

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Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a sight-threatening complication of diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of visual loss in the working-age population in the industrialized and emerging world. The standard of care for DME is focal/grid laser photocoagulation, which is proven effective in reducing the risk of vision loss, but inherently destructive and associated with tissue damage and collateral effects. Subthreshold diode laser micropulse photocoagulation is a nondestructive tissue-sparing laser procedure, which, in randomized controlled trials for the treatment of DME, has been found equally effective as conventional photocoagulation. Functional and anatomical outcomes from four independent randomized controlled trials provide level one evidence that vision stabilization/improvement and edema resolution/reduction can be elicited with less or no retinal damage, and with fewer or no complications. This review describes the principles of subthreshold diode laser micropulse photocoagulation, its treatment modalities and clinical outcomes in the context of standard laser treatments and of emerging nonlaser therapies for DME.

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