Your condition

The retina is a layer at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision. With conditions like diabetic retinopathy your retina may go through a series of changes. These may include leakage or closure of blood vessels or growth of weak, new blood vessels that can bleed. These changes may progress in severity leading to reduced vision.

Three diagrams showing 1) leaking blood vessels, 2) closed blood vessels and 3) weak new blood vessels
Three diagrams showing 1) leaking blood vessels, 2) closed blood vessels and 3) weak new blood vessels

What does the laser do and how does it work?

This type of laser treatment, also known as scatter laser, is performed using a thermal laser. Scatter laser helps to control the growth of abnormal blood vessels on the retina. Several sessions will be required depending upon the severity of your retinopathy.

Two diagrams showing an eye that has received pan retinal photocoagulation treatment.

What to expect

  • You will be in the hospital for at least 2 hours.
  • You will be given drops to dilate your pupil (make it large) which last for several hours, so you will be unable to drive home.
  • Local anaesthetic drops will also be put in your eye before the procedure.
  • Treatment is delivered through a lens which rests against your eye.
  • PRP is not a one-off procedure. You will need several laser sessions/appointments especially if you need laser treatment in both eyes.
  • Please take all of your usual medications prior to your appointment, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
  • If you have diabetes please ensure you have your normal meals and bring snacks for while you wait.
  • Side effects may include pain and sensitivity to light (photophobia) which may require some pain relief. Wearing sunglasses (with your prescription, if required) can make the trip home more comfortable.
  • Please arrange for someone to pick you up and drive/take you home.

More information

The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Phone: (03) 9929 8666

Diabetes Australia – Victoria
Phone: (03) 9667 1777

Disclaimer This document describes the generally accepted practice at the time of publication only. It is only a summary of clinical knowledge regarding this area. The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital makes no warranty, express or implied, that the information contained in this document is comprehensive. They accept no responsibility for any consequence arising from inappropriate application of this information.

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  • Pan Retinal Photocoagulation (PRP) #161
  • Owner: Lasser
  • Last Reviewed: June 28, 2023
  • Next Review: June 28, 2028