Purpose: To present the state-of-the-art of subthreshold diode laser micropulse photocoagulation (SDM) as invisible retinal phototherapy for diabetic macular edema (DME).
Method: To review the role and evolution of retinal laser treatment for DME.
Results: Thermal laser retinal photocoagulation has been the cornerstone of treatment for diabetic macular edema for over four decades. Throughout, laser induced retinal damage produced by conventional photocoagulation has been universally accepted as necessary to produce a therapeutic benefit, despite the inherent risks, adverse effects and limitations of thermally destructive treatment. Recently, SDM, performed as invisible retinal phototherapy for DME, has been found to be effective in the absence of any retinal damage or adverse effect, fundamentally altering our understanding of laser treatment for retinal disease.
Summary: The discovery of clinically effective and harmless SDM treatment for DME offers exciting new information that will improve our understanding of laser treatment for retinal disease, expand treatment indications, and improve patient outcomes.