ANALYSIS of data from four decades of clinical research demonstrates that currently recommended treatments are considerably more effective in preventing blindness from proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) than has been previously appreciated. In fact, careful follow-up, timely photocoagulation, and vitrectomy when necessary strikingly reduce the risk of blindness for patients with PDR. This remarkable finding lends even greater urgency to current efforts to ensure that virtually all persons with diabetes receive at least yearly dilated eye examinations and are offered appropriate treatment when indicated.
Based on the results of clinical trials supported by the National Eye Institute and extensive clinical experience, specific recommendations have been developed concerning for whom and when treatment is appropriate.1-5 Prior to the availability of these treatments, the development of PDR was reason for extreme concern by both patients and their physicians about the risk of impending blindness. A 1963 study by Beetham6 showed that