Modern lasers are miracles of control. The laser beam can be focused on a spot as small as one-millionth of a meter, the power
controlled to one-thousandth of a watt, and the exposure time set to one-billionth of a second.
The laser has replaced conventional surgical techniques for many procedures because laser surgery can often be performed with
little or no pain, without anesthesia or hospitalization, and at a lower cost.
Lasers eliminate the need to make a physical incision in the eye; the incidence of infection and other complications after
surgery is greatly reduced.
Lasers and Retinal Tears
The retina is at the back of the eye, virtually inaccessible to conventional surgery. In some people, the retina can tear and
become partially detached from the back wall of the eye.
Although retinal detachment in advanced stages usually requires major surgery, using an Argon laser can fuse smaller tears in
place and help prevent further detachment.
Lasers and Diabetes
It is not uncommon for a diabetic to have blood vessels in the retina which begin to leak. Also, diabetics may grow new blood
vessels on the surface of the retina, which may bleed or cause scarring. Laser treatment can reduce their growth or cause them to
regress, reducing the risk of visual loss. The Argon laser is often used to seal them closed.
Lasers and Macular Degeneration
As the body ages, weak blood vessels may leak and scar the central retina. Called macular degeneration, this condition prevents the
patient from seeing objects straight ahead, leaving him or her with only peripheral vision.
Lasers and Acute Glaucoma
In the relatively rare instances of acute glaucoma, immediate treatment is required. Argon lasers will often be used to open a fluid
channel directly in the iris to reduce pressure and avoid more extensive surgery. Lasers are also used in chronic glaucoma. Several
different types of lasers are used to treat and enlarge the normal fluid drainage channels of the eye, reducing the intraocular pressure.