What is a Surgical Laser?
A laser is an instrument that produces a pure, high-intensity beam of light energy. The laser light can be focused onto the retina, selectively treating the desired area while leaving the surrounding tissues untouched. The absorbed energy creates a microscopic spot to destroy lesions or weld tissues together.
Who Needs Laser Surgery?
Lasers were first used to treat eye diseases in the early 1970's and have become the standard of care for previously untreatable disorders. For many patients, laser surgery can preserve or prevent vision loss if diagnosis and treatment of a retinal condition are done early.
Retinal conditions can occur without you even knowing. Your eye will almost always look and feel normal with retinal diseases, even when there is hemorrhaging and leakage in the back of the eye. Your sight may also be normal for a while despite the presence of potentially blinding eye problems.
The only way to tell if you need laser surgery is to have a careful, dilated retinal examination, often followed by special testing including OCT scanning and fluorescein angiography (a photographic test that evaluates the eye's circulation). Lasers are commonly used to treat the following eye conditions:
- Diabetic retinopathy.
- Retinal vein occlusions.
- Age-related macular degeneration.
- Ocular histoplasmosis.
- Retinal breaks and detachment.
- Central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC).
- Ocular tumors.
About the Laser Surgery Procedure
There are no special preparations before eye laser treatment. You should eat normally and take your regularly prescribed medications before surgery.
Retinal laser surgery is performed in our office. Eye drops will be given to dilate the pupil and numb the eye. The treatment is performed while you are seated in a chair, similar to the one used for regular eye examinations. You will remain awake and comfortable. Treatment is usually painless, although some patients may require a numbing injection for discomfort or sensitivity to the laser light.
The laser is an instrument that produces a pure, high-intensity beam of light energy. The laser light can be precisely focused onto the retina (the light sensing tissue at the back of the eye), selectively treating the desired area while leaving the surrounding tissues untouched. The absorbed energy creates a microscopic spot to destroy lesions or weld tissues together.
The laser treatment is usually painless, usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete, and you can go home immediately following surgery. Arrangements for transportation should be made in advance since you may not be able to drive right away.
Are There Any Post Operative Restrictions or Side Effects?
There are virtually no restrictions following retinal laser surgery, and you should be able to resume your normal activities and work schedule the following day.
Side effects are dependent on the retinal condition being treated and will be discussed with you at your visit to Regional Retina Consultants. Most patients notice no vision changes following their laser surgery, through there may be some temporary blurring that may last for several weeks to months. In addition, depending on the condition being treated, some may notice a permanent blind spot or decrease in peripheral and night vision.
How Many Laser Treatments are Necessary?
It will take several weeks to months before your Regional Retinal Consultants surgeon can tell whether the laser surgery has been successful. Many patients, however, will need more than one treatment to control their eye problem and prevent further loss of vision.