Laser Treatment Options
The word laser stands for light amplification stimulated emission of radiation. A laser is a concentrated beam of light, created when an electric current passes through a special material.
The name and the color of the laser depend on the type of special material that is used:
- Argon gas—blue-green light;
- Krypton gas—red or yellow light;
- YAG (yttrium-aluminum-garnet)—invisible infrared light;
- Argon—fluoride (excimer)—invisible ultraviolet light.
Laser surgery in ophthamology can successfully treat many types of eye diseases.
How does a laser work?There are two different ways that lasers are used to treat eye diseases.
The light is converted to heat when it reaches the eye.
The heat is used to:
- Stop leakage of blood and other fluids from viens and arteries in the eye.
- Destroy abnormal tissue such as a tumor;
- Bond the retina to the back of the eye;
- Open the eyes filtration system for glaucoma treatment;
- Create an opening in the iris for treatment of narrow angle glaucoma.
The light cuts or sculpts the tissue, similar to a knife.
The beam of light is used to:
- Cut thin membranes inside the eye that are blocking vision;
- Change the shape of the eyes surface.
Laser surgery of the eye has several advantages:
- There is no risk of infection from the laser light;
- Laser surgery can be performed in an outpatient setting allowing you to go home
shortly after the procedure is finished;
- The surgeon has great precision and control.
Which eye diseases can be treated with laser surgery?
Retinal tears or holes:
The retina is the inner layer of the eye that senses light and helps you to see. If the retina tears, it can separate from the back wall of the eye. This is called a detached retina, and it can cause you to lose sight. Symptoms of retinal tears include:
- Sudden flashes of light;
- "Floaters” or specks in your vision.
If retinal tears are found before the retina detaches, they can be treated with the argon or krypton laser. The laser helps bond the retina to the wall of the eye, preventing a retinal detachment.
If retinal detachment has already occurred, the laser may be used as part of a surgical repair of the detachment.
Diabetic retinopathy: Eye disease from diabetes is a major cause of vision loss. Diabetes can cause blood vessels in the retina to grow abnormally. The vessels can leak fluid (macular edema) or bleed inside the eye.
Laser surgery to treat diabetic retinopathy:
- Seals leaking blood vessels to reduce macular edema, helping to prevent further vision loss;
- Slows or stops growth of abnormal blood vessels, decreasing the chance of bleeding in the eye.
- Macular degeneration: The macula is the small, central area of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular degeneration affects your central or reading vision.
Most people have “dry” macular degeneration, which cannot be helped by laser surgery.
A few people have "wet” macular degeneration. With this condition, abnormal blood vessels cause bleeding and scarring of the macula. In certain cases, these people may be treated with the argon or krypton laser. The laser seals the blood vessels to prevent further damage.
There are other retinal problems that can be treated with the laser, including:
- Retinal vein occlusions;
- Central serous retinopathy;
- Some tumors of the eye.