Applying laser in retina

Retinal laser photocoagulation

Table of Contents

Laser treatment of diabetic retinopathy

The application of retinal laser or photocoagulation of the retina is indicated in patients with complications such as abnormal vein formation in the retina (proliferative diabetic retinopathy) or patients who are about to have them. It is estimated that in 80% of cases of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, treatment with laser in a timely and appropriate manner is able to stop the progression of the disease.

Patients should be monitored and undergo laser sessions until the stabilization of the diabetic retinopathy. If the hemorrhaging continues, a retinal study should be requested to identify the affected areas and to add more laser. If the hemorrhage does not reabsorb after laser treatment within 1-3 months, surgery (vitrectomy) should be considered.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy with neovessels before laser
Panretinal photocoagulation
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy without neovessels after laser

Retinal laser photocoagulation procedure steps

Before the procedure, you will be given eye drops to dilate your pupils. Once your pupils are sufficiently dilated, you will be seated and will place your chin on a chin rest. A special contact lens will be placed on your eye, which helps the doctor aim the laser. With each pulse of the laser, you will see a flash of light. In diabetic retinopathy, 800 to 1000 shots per session are generally applied to have beneficial results.

In cases of retinal detachment or retinal tears, it is a similar procedure but your doctor will make small burns only around the tear or hole in the retina. Burns create small scars that repair the tear and help keep the retina in place.


THE LASER TREATMENT ON THE RETINA IS DONE IN THE OFFICE. THERE IS NO NEED TO FAST BEFORE THE PROCEDURE AND, AFTERWARDS, THE PATIENT CAN RESUME THEIR DAILY ACTIVITIES WITHIN A FEW HOURS.

After laser photocoagulation of the retina, your vision may be blurred during the first 24 hours. You may see floaters, but these will diminish over time.

Applying laser in retina

Adverse effects

The laser treatment on the retina can have adverse effects including:

  • Mild blurred vision
  • Reduced night vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Reduced peripheral vision
  • Colors appearing dull or faded
  • A little pain around the eye or in the head for a couple hours

HOWEVER, IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND THAT DIABETIC RETINOPATHY THAT IS NOT TREATED CAN CAUSE IRREVERSIBLE BLINDNESS.

Other indications for retinal laser photocoagulation

Laser photocoagulation is also used to treat other diseases with the same early symptoms as diabetic retinopathy, such as venous occlusions of the retina that result in a lack of oxygen and form abnormal veins.

Retinal tear

As the name implies, a retinal tear is a rip or tear in the retina. It can cause blurry vision, and it can lead to a retinal detachment. Photocoagulation will stop fluid from flowing beneath the retina, which might lead to a retinal detachment

Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is what happens when your retina pulls away from its normal location. It is also called a detached retina. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency because it can cause permanent vision loss. Laser photocoagulation will burn the area near the detachment to make a scar. This scar will assist the detached area of the retina to reattach to tissue.

horseshoe retinal tear
Horseshoe retinal tear surrounded by laser
Untreated tear and consequently retinal detachment

In summary, laser treatment is a fundamental tool and indispensable for problems related to the retina. At Retina Center we have the best technology to perform this treatment.

Laser application in the office in a patient with diabetes
Laser during vitrectomy surgery in diabetic retinopathy

Additional information: Medline Plus

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