Many a times you visit your eye doctor for some vision related problems, some retina problem is detected, a few tests are performed on your eyes and then you are advised to get Retina Laser done to control/treat your retina eye problem! This is a common scenario for many people today who have some or the other retinal disease like diabetic retinopathy, retinal holes etc.

Retina laser is one of commonest OPD procedures done in an eye hospital. Very often I get asked a lot of questions related to what’s and how’s of Retina Laser. I remember a very special person Mr. Singh. He was a scientist and had a very analytical mind to everything. He was diagnosed with Diabetic retinopathy. We performed several tests on his eyes to determine the right treatment for his retina. OCT, Retinal angiography among others were performed. After looking at all the reports, I planned a retina laser called PRP to control and halt the progression of his diabetic retinopathy. He asked me a series of questions related to his planned laser treatment of the retina:

  • What are some of the other retina-related conditions that require laser treatment?
  • How is the Retina laser procedure done?
  • How safe is Retina laser?
  • What are precautions I will have to take after Retina laser?
  • How does retina laser work?

In this blog I am briefly going to clear common doubts about retina lasers with the aim of clearing doubts for people like Mr. Singh.

Laser is nothing but a light of specific wavelength. There are two main type of lasers used in treatment of Retina diseases according to their spectral wavelength i.e. Green and Yellow. Most commonly used laser among the two is called ARGON GREEN LASER. This laser has frequency of 532nm. There are several other lasers besides above two which may be used in treatment of retinal diseases such as diode laser, multicolor lasers, Kyrpton laser, Yellow micro pulse lasers etc.

What are the different retinal diseases where retina lasers are used?

  • Retinal Breaks and peripheral degenerations like Lattice degeneration and Retinal Hole/tear
  • Diabetic Retinopathy in Proliferative and Macular Edema
  • Retinal Vascular Occlusion
  • Central Serous Chorioretinopathy.
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
  • Retinal Vascular Tumors
  • Exudative Retinal Vascular Disorders like Coat’s disease, Hemangioma, Macroaneurysm

I know some of these names may be very complicated, but gist of the matter is that retinal lasers are one of the main stays of treatment for many retinal conditions.

How Laser works?

Retina Laser works by creating photocoagulative reaction at site of application, in simple language it creates a scar which is a toughened area at site of application. In condition like Diabetic retinopathy this reduces oxygen demand of peripheral part of the retina and hence protect the central part of the retina from hypoxia related damage. Whereas in peripheral lattice degeneration / retina tear, retinal laser creates toughened area of scar around retinal thinning thereby preventing fluid to travel under the retina through the retinal tear.

How is Retina Laser done?

It is an outpatient procedure and does not need hospital admission. It is done under topical anesthesia by instillation of eye drops. It can be done in sitting or in lying down position. Mild pricking sensation may be experienced by some patients during the procedure. Depending on the area lasered it usually takes anywhere from 5-20 minutes.

What are the do’s and don’ts after the procedure

All routine activities like travelling, taking bath, computer work can be carried out even same day after procedure. So, in short other than avoiding heavy weightlifting for a few days, there are no precautions after retinal Laser treatment.

Can Retina Laser cause any side effects and complications?

Slight eye pain and headache may be experienced by few patients. As such there are no sight threatening complication after LASER. After focal retina LASER may experience scotoma in visual field for a few days after which it slowly resolves.

All in all, Retinal laser is absolutely safe procedure, it is an OPD procedure and does not require any hospital admission. However, one should get it done by the expert hands of the Retina specialist whenever advised.