The physicians of Retina Consultants of Seattle can perform several types of laser treatments. A laser is an instrument that produces a pure, high-intensity beam of light energy. The laser can be focused on the retina, selectively treating the affected area while leaving the surrounding tissue untouched.
The most common types of retinal disease treated with laser are:
- Retinal holes or tears
- Diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy)
- Age related retinal disease (macular degeneration)
Laser surgery is usually painless and performed in our office while you remain awake and comfortable. Laser treatment can often preserve vision or prevent vision loss if performed in a timely fashion. The following list describes the laser treatments available to you at Retina Consultants of Seattle.
FOCAL LASER TREATMENT
This laser is used to stop leakages in the retina. This typically painless procedure is very brief. You’ll be ready to leave the clinic a few minutes after the procedure is complete.
Immediately after your focal laser treatment you can expect to have blurry vision, mostly from the bright light of the laser. Occasionally, the eye will feel scratchy on the day of the procedure. This usually resolves within 24 hours. There are no restrictions on your daily activities after receiving the treatment.
Common Retinal Findings Treated with Focal Laser:
- Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy with Clinically Significant Macular Edema
- Retinal Tears or Breaks
- Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion
Laser Treatment for Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
Laser is used to stop abnormal retinal blood vessels from leaking fluid into the retina, which occurs in the eyes of patients with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Vision does not usually improve with laser treatment, but it can frequently stop further loss of vision. When retinal swelling or exudates in the macula have reached a critical stage, laser should be done so that vision does not deteriorate further. There are two types of laser surgery for NPDR:
Focal Laser: The specific leaking spots in the retina are found by flourescien angiogram, which is then used as a guide for the laser in attempt to stop the leakage. In some patients, all the leaking spots may be properly treated, but new ones may develop. Further leakage causes swelling and worsening of vision. Additional laser surgery frequently needs to be done in order to stop new leakage.
Grid Laser: In some cases of NPDR, blood vessels appear to be leaking everywhere in the macula rather than a few specific areas. In such cases, a scatter of laser in a grid pattern is placed across the entire swollen macular area. Grid laser has a fair chance of drying the macula and holding vision stable however, it rarely improves vision.
PAN RETINAL PHOTOCOAGULATION
This laser procedure is used to treat Central Retinal Vein Occlusion and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. This laser is known as a “scattered laser”, meaning it treats multiple spots throughout the retina. This procedure can take up to 20 minutes, and you may feel a slight pinching or slightly painful sensation. You may need to receive multiple sessions of the treatment. You will be ready to leave the clinic a few minutes after the procedure is complete.
Laser Surgery for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)
If the amount of neovascularization from PDR is significant, Pan-Retinal Photocoagulation (PRP) can often prevent further loss of vision. PRP laser is placed in the peripheral retina causing some of the peripheral vision to diminish. The peripheral areas are sacrificed in order to save as much of the central vision as possible. Night vision will also be diminished. Following laser, blurred vision is also common. Usually, this blur goes away; however in a small number of patients, some blur will always be present.
Immediately after your laser treatment you can expect to have blurry vision, mostly from the bright light of the laser. You may also note a decrease in your peripheral vision due to the laser scars, but less vision will be affected than if the procedure had not been done. Occasionally, the eye will feel scratchy on the day of the procedure. This will usually resolve within 24 hours. There are no restrictions on your daily activities after receiving the treatment.
Laser retinopexy is used to treat retinal tears, as a way to prevent a retinal detachment. Once the contact lens is put in place, your ophthalmologist will begin treatment. This typically painless procedure will only take a few minutes. You will be ready to leave the clinic shortly after the treatment is completed.
You may have a slight headache after the laser, which can be resolved by taking an over the counter pain reliever. You may also notice blurry vision, which should subside after your dilation wears off in 6-24 hours depending on the strength of drop used. It is also normal for patients to notice flashes and floaters after the laser treatment. Patients notice a decrease within a couple weeks of the treatment. There are no restrictions on your daily activities after receiving the treatment.
TRANSPUPILLARY THERMOTHERAPY (TTT Laser)
Transpupillary Thermotherapy is a laser treatment that uses lower temperatures than conventional thermal laser to treat wet macular degeneration, producing less or no damage to the retina. Initial studies applying this laser technique to common forms of wet macular degeneration, such as subfoveal choroidal neovascularization, suggest it may be an effective treatment. To date, limited information is available on how much better patients fare with this treatment, compared to those who have had no treatment.