Lasers are becoming much more prominent in the world, especially in healthcare. As lasers are more frequently used, it is more common than ever that an eye surgery might utilize a laser.
Benefits of Lasers
Lasers are a unique beam of light that provide several benefits.
Since a laser is only one color of light, the tissue that is to be treated can be selectively targeted based on what color light is absorbed by the tissue.
Additionally, lasers are very condensed beams of light which allow for precision with surgery.
This precision is very beneficial in eye surgery as the structures which are treated are often very small and close together.
Another benefit of lasers for surgery is that the laser light does not result in bleeding or trauma the way a traditional surgery would.
For surgeries inside the eye, a laser is able to reach the back of the eye without any damage to the front of the eye or any bleeding in the eye.
The Types of Eye Surgeries that Use Lasers
Today a majority of all eye surgeries utilize lasers in some way.
Laser Cataract Surgery
A cataract occurs when the lens inside of the eye becomes cloudy. In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens.
The traditional cataract surgery requires the lens to be broken manually and extracted before the new lens is inserted.
In laser cataract surgery, an infrared laser is used to break the lens into pieces and allow the extraction of the pieces with less damage to the rest of the eye.
Laser Glaucoma Surgery
Glaucoma is a disease in which the pressure in the eye is too high and must either be addressed by reducing the amount of fluid in the eye or increasing the rate the fluid is drained.
The primary therapy for glaucoma is medication in the form of eye drops.
However, if eye drops are not an option or are not effective enough, there are surgical options.
Two of the most common surgeries for glaucoma are selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI).
Selective laser trabeculoplasty uses a green laser to open the drainage system and allow more fluid to drain from the eye.
Laser peripheral iridotomy uses a green laser to puncture a small hole in the iris and allow the fluid in the eye to pass through the hole and prevent a backflow in the eye.
LASIK Eye Surgery
The laser used in LASIK is an ultraviolet laser that makes small incisions into the cornea to allow a flap to be created.
After this flap is created, the cornea can be altered, and the flap reapplied for healing.
Laser Retinal Surgery
Diseases such as diabetes can result in damage to the retina in the back of the eye.
If this damage is severe, there may need to be a surgery performed to prevent further damage or complications.
In this surgery, a green laser is used to burn select areas of the retina and prevent new blood vessels from growing.
While this seems counter-intuitive, it prevents the new blood vessels from pulling on the retina and causing a retinal detachment and stops the growth of leaky blood vessels.
Safety of Lasers in Eye Surgery
Any surgery carries a set of risks based on the type and invasiveness of the surgery.
Fortunately, many eye surgeries are very safe both with and without lasers.
The use of lasers in eye surgery does require specific safety measures to prevent complications both for the patient and the doctor or anyone in the surgery suite.
All doctors who perform these surgeries must follow the appropriate safety protocol to prevent these unwanted complications.