A laser is a highly focused beam of light. Each form of laser will be made up of a specific wavelength. The intense light energy produced by a retinal laser has a wavelength which is absorbed by the tissue at the back of the eye.
When absorbed by the cells, the light energy is converted to heat and this heating effect can produce several effects within tissues which can be used therapeutically.
Specific conditions which retinal laser surgery may be used to treat include:
- Age related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal vein occlusion
- Retinal tears
- Certain other inherited conditions which affect the retina
Retinal laser surgery is performed by our expert consultant ophthalmologists who all have extensive experience with this non invasive treatment option. The exact procedure may vary slightly depending on the retinal condition being treated.
Initially, eye drops will be carefully placed in the outer eye to dilate the pupils and to numb the outer eye. Once this has been done an anaesthetic may be administered to the outer eye. A lens is then placed over the eye which helps to enable your clinician to be able to direct the laser more accurately to the exact area of the retina needed.
The laser is then used to carefully perform the intended benefit depending on the need. These may include:
- Creating small areas of damage can stimulate a healing effect in areas of the retina
- Abnormal or blocked blood vessels can be burnt away
- Leaking blood vessels can be closed
- Retinal tears can be repaired by sealing the retina to the wall of the eye
Most retinal laser treatments last between 5-10 minutes.
Retinal laser surgery is a very safe procedure but does carry some possible side effects. During the procedure itself, patients may experience a burning or pin prick sensation. The treatment can be halted briefly if this becomes too intense.
Other possible side effects include:
- Blind spots in peripheral vision
- Loss of central vision
- Retinal bleeding and excessive scar tissue
- Failure of the procedure necessitating further invasive intervention
To minimise the possibility of these risks and if applicable to allow retinal tears or detachments to heal safely you will be instructed to rest from any strenuous activity for a few weeks after the procedure.