In the advanced background and early proliferative stages of diabetic retinopathy, argon-laser surgery may be used to seal leaking blood vessels and halt the growth of new blood vessels in the retina and vitreous. Several laser sessions are usually needed before vision stabilizes or improves. If left untreated, abnormal blood vessel growth can cause retinal swelling or detachment, vitreous hemorrhage and loss of vision.

When there are small retinal tears, with little or no nearby retinal detachment, the tears are generally repaired with a laser. The surgeon uses a laser to make small burns around the edges of the tears. These produce scars that seal down the edges of the tears, thereby preventing fluid from passing through and collecting under the retina.

In Argon-Laser trabeculoplasty, a high-energy beam of light is used to stretch the drainage channels inside the eye. This helps to facilitate fluid drainage from the eye, thereby lowering the intraocular pressure.