Research findings reported in this month's issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology1 provide yet another compelling reason why primary care physicians should refer their diabetic patients to an ophthalmologist who has expertise in recognizing, evaluating, and treating diabetic retinopathy.
The new findings are from the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS), a multicenter randomized clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute. They indicate that many people who have "clinically significant" diabetic macular edema can benefit from argon laser treatment.
Macular edema usually causes only a mild to moderate decrease in visual acuity, but it can have a dramatic effect on the diabetic patient's quality of life, prohibiting reading or driving a car. The ETDRS has shown that it is possible to significantly reduce the risk of visual loss in such patients by appropriate use of argon laser photocoagulation. The current study was planned as a follow-up to the
Photocoagulation Therapy for Diabetic Eye Disease. JAMA. 1985;254(21):3086. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360210102042