Laser Treatment for Macular Oedema

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-596/2023
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department
  • Last Updated: 31 May 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is Macular Oedema?

The macula is the central part of the retina (the lining of the back of the eye). The retina works like a film in a camera, picking up images that we see. The macula is responsible for our fine detail straight-ahead vision. This is the part of the eye that is used for reading, watching TV and recognising faces.


Some people develop a build-up of fluid at the back of the eye (macular oedema) due to leaks of the blood vessels in the retina. This may be due to diabetes or a blockage in one of the veins (retinal vein occlusion).

Why do I need Macular Laser?

The laser helps to dry up the leak in the macula area. If the leak is not treated it can result in damage to the central retina, which can permanently affect your vision.

Can there be any complications or risks?

There is good evidence that macular laser treatment can prevent the vision from getting worse. A small number of people may notice an improvement in their eyesight.

  • You may notice blind spots in your central straight-ahead vision. This might mean you will not meet the legal visual requirement for holding a driving licence, particularly if you need extensive laser treatment to both eyes.
  • Your colour vision might be altered.
  • Some patients will need more than one laser treatment.
  • Rarely your vision may deteriorate despite the treatment. This can occur if there is poor circulation at the back of the eye due to the underlying disease process or by an unintended burn to the centre of the macula.
  • If you have laser treatment to both eyes you need to inform the DVLA that you have had laser treatment.

How do I prepare for the laser treatment?

Please read the information leaflet. Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this examination.

You will have dilating drops, which opens up the pupil of your eye to give the doctor a good view of the back of the eye during the treatment. These will blur your vision for up to 6 hours and so you should not drive to the appointment as it would not be safe for you to drive home. Please arrange an alternative method of attending the clinic on the day of the appointment and do not drive until the dilating drops have worn off.

What will happen?

Please report to the Reception Desk in the entrance area of the Eye Hospital. You will then be sent to the correct area in the Eye Clinic and a member of the nursing team will check your vision and put dilating drops in the eye/s. These will blur your vision.


The doctor performing the treatment will explain the treatment to you and ask you to sign a consent form. You will sit in front of the laser machine with your chin on a rest, as you do when we examine your eyes in the clinic. A drop of local anaesthetic is used to numb the surface of the eye, before a special contact lens is placed onto the surface of the eye. The laser makes a clicking noise and you may be aware of bright, flashing lights.


The treatment usually takes 5-15 minutes and is not painful. It is important that you try to keep your head and eye as still as possible during the treatment and that you follow any instructions given to you by the doctor doing the treatment.

What happens afterwards?

You may notice discomfort in the eye after the treatment. This can be helped by taking pain relief medication as you would for a headache (e.g. paracetamol). Your vision will be “dazzled” or may seem darker after the treatment. This effect can last for 24-48 hours. You must not drive for 24 hours.  Once the treatment is completed you will be able to go home and an arrangement will be made to see you again in clinic to assess the response to the treatment. Laser treatment usually takes 3-4 months to take effect.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Ophthalmology Department (01482) 608788.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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