Laser beams produce lots of associations in people’s minds! Many different lasers are used in ophthalmology, but what do they do and how do they work? Would laser treatment help your eyesight? Here are some common questions we encounter answered:
What is a laser treatment used for in ophthalmology?
There are many eye conditions that are treated with laser. Laser light is a special type of light that comes in many different sub-types, which have different effects and properties. Laser machines designed for one type of treatment cannot be used for other indications. Common indications for the use of laser in eye conditions include refractive laser, YAG laser and retinal laser which treat a wide variety of conditions including refractive error, posterior capsular opacity (scarring of the lens capsule behind an intra-ocular lens implant which commonly occurs after cataract surgery), glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and retinal tears.
What types of laser treatment are there?
This uses so-called excimer lasers, which use ultraviolet light to reshape the cornea, the clear front “window” of the eye. It is used to change your prescription, frequently in order to remove the need for glasses or contact lenses. We do not perform refractive lasers at our practice, only assessment and evaluation and post-laser care.
This is frequently an infra-red light laser. It produces tissue disruption on a very small point level and is routinely used to treat posterior capsular opacity by opening up a clear window in the posterior capsule without the need for surgery. It is also used to treat the iris in some types of glaucoma, such as narrow-angle glaucoma.
These include several laser classes, including argon, diode, multicolour lasers, micropulse lasers and lasers for photodynamic therapy. They generate a small heating effect underneath the retina and are used to treat retinal tears, diabetic eye disease and some rarer conditions.
Will laser treatment help my vision?
If your vision has become increasingly blurred in the months or years following cataract surgery and you have been diagnosed with a posterior capsular opacity (PCO), a YAG capsulotomy laser treatment should improve your vision back to the previous level. Expect to have a few floaters in your vision afterwards, which are normal side effects of treatment. YAG laser treatment of some types of glaucoma such as narrow-angle glaucoma may produce transient visual effects, such as floaters and blurring, which soon settle.
If you have a retinal tear, you may require a laser retinopexy. This will put a ring of laser marks around the retinal tear and produce a scarring reaction over time, which helps to stick the retina down and reduce the risk of a retinal detachment. This treatment does not affect your vision and does not treat any floaters which you may be experiencing.
Retinal laser for macular oedema or abnormal new vessel formation, in cases of vascular occlusion or diabetes, may sometimes produce an improvement in vision. It also seeks to stabilise the retina and helps to prevent bleeding and other problems that can arise with these conditions.
What can I expect during my treatment?
Laser treatment is performed in the clinic as an outpatient and is fast and virtually painless. You may require your pupils dilating for YAG posterior capsulotomy for PCO and for retinal laser. Due to the bright light flashes during treatment, you may feel dazzled, however, this effect does not last. Most laser treatment only takes a few minutes, though some treatments need a little longer. The dilating drops will wear off overnight. You may be given post treatment eye drops for a few days. Your ophthalmologist will advise you on exactly what you can expect.
What can I expect after treatment?
If you have received treatment for posterior capsular opacity, it is usual to experience floaters. These will persist inside your eye, although they quickly settle down at the bottom and your brain learns to ignore their presence.
Inflammation can be a rare side effect of some laser, so if you experience any pain or changes in vision, you should report these to your treating specialist.
Retinal laser usually does not produce any lasting after-effects. You may need to have your treatment topped up or repeated, depending on your condition and response to treatment.
LASERS AT CLINICA:
At Clinica, we have both the YAG and retinal lasers which are of the highest specifications and are regularly used and serviced. All laser safety checks are followed for patient and doctor safety.
LASER SURGEONS AT CLINICA:
Clinica has refractive, cataract, glaucoma and retinal consultant ophthalmic surgeons who are skilled in laser surgery.
For those wanting refractive surgery, Mr Sajjad Ahmad the Clinica Corneal surgeon consults for refractive laser.
The YAG laser is used by the retinal and cataract surgeons Ms Evgenia Anikina and Mr Julian Robbins, cataract surgeons Mr Sajjad Ahmad, Mr Jaheed Khan, and glaucoma cataract surgeon Ms Laura Crawley.
We have a multi retinal laser which is used for the treatment of various retinal conditions by all five specialists in our Retinal Care unit: Ms Evgenia Anikina, Mr Julian Robins, Professor Michel Michaelides, Mr Jaheed Khan and Ms Esther Posner.
Laser surgery can save your vision, or prevent visual deterioration for many eye conditions. It is a precise outpatient treatment with often long-lasting benefits.