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Purpose: To define the effect of scatter laser photocoagulation on foveal retinal thickness.

Methods: A commercial scanning retinal thickness analyzer was used to measure retinal thickness. The foveal retinal thickness was measured at the central area of the fundus (0.4 x 0.4 mm). The method was applied to 20 consecutive patients (mean age, 52.4 /- 16.9 years) with diabetic retinopathy. Measurements were performed before and 6 weeks after scatter photocoagulation. Patients were examined by fluorescein angiography and slit-lamp biomicroscopy to detect macular edema.

Results: Mean foveal thickness before scatter photocoagulation was 187 /- 45 [mu]m, increasing to 221 /- 46 [mu]m after the treatment (P = 0.0001). The foveal thickness increased in 12 eyes (60%). Laser treatment increased macular permeability in two eyes (10%). Biomicroscopic examination revealed central macular thickening in one eye (5%). Visual acuity was reduced in four eyes (20%).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that subclinical macular edema occurs after scatter laser photocoagulation. The retinal thickness analyzer is a sensitive tool for early detection of macular edema after laser treatment, because increases in retinal thickness as small as 34 [mu]m cannot be assessed by slit-lamp biomicroscopy.

RETINA: 19:59-64, 1999

(C) The Ophthalmic Communications Society, Inc.