There are many types of lasers used in the field of Ophthalmology. These lasers have different applications and are used to treat different eye related conditions.
The modern technique for cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens inside the eye and leaving the clear outer membrane, called the capsule, intact to hold the new intraocular lens in place.
The capsule in many instances retains a few cells from the cataract which can multiply and grow and cause a clouding of the lens capsule. Once that clouding extends into the visual axis, vision can become reduced once again. This event can occur many years after cataract surgery. Fortunately with a painless laser procedure called the YAG Capsulotomy, the cloudy capsule can be cleared. The procedure takes less than five minutes and is painless and results in visual recovery as soon as the effect of the dilating drop which is instilled prior to the procedure wears off
In patients with closed angles, the drainage points in the eye are closed and therefore the fluid generated inside the eye is unable to leave. The intraocular pressure can build rapidly resulting in pain, nausea, vomiting and damage to the optic nerve and vision. This attack is called acute angle closure glaucoma. It can be treated with a YAG iridotomy which involved creating a microscopic opening in the iris to allow for escape of the aqueous fluid.
In patients with narrow angles at risk of angle closure glaucoma, the same procedure is used to create a microscopic hole and prevent a painful and vision threatening attack in the future.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty
Laser trabeculoplasty is an in office procedure that is painless and has very few side effects. It is used to treat elevated intraocular pressures in patients with ocular hypertension or open angle glaucoma. The laser is effective in as many as 80% of patients. SLT can be used as an alternative to medical treatment of glaucoma if there are side effects with medication use or as the first line of treatment if a patient does not wish to continously use medication. SLT’s intraocular pressure lowering effect tends to wear off over a few years. However, the laser can be repeated once its effects wear off.