Visual outcome was analysed in 16 consecutive eyes with symptomatic retinal arteriolar macroaneurysms treated by direct laser photocoagulation and 26 consecutive symptomatic eyes followed with no treatment. No difference existed between groups in presenting visual acuity, macular involvement, presence of macular subretinal fluid, or presence or location of associated haemorrhage. The mean follow up was 41 months. In the 26 untreated eyes, visual acuity was improved by 2 or more lines in 13 (50%), was unchanged in nine (35%), and decreased in four cases (15%). In the 16 treated cases, three improved (19%), seven were unchanged (43%), and six had decreased visual acuity (38%). The average minimum angle of resolution improved 0.53 log units in untreated cases and decreased 0.14 log units in treated cases (p = 0.02). Multivariable logistic regression modelling analysis revealed that laser treatment remained a significant risk factor for final visual acuity of less than 20/80 even when controlling for the effects of subretinal haemorrhage and foveal subretinal fluid (odds ratio 8.4, p = 0.01). Laser photocoagulation directly to the macroaneurysm did not improve the visual outcome in this series.