During laser photocoagulation, a laser beam is directed to the blood vessels that are leaking on the retina. The laser creates scar tissue around the area that slows the growth of any new or abnormal blood vessels. While it is unable to restore vision that has already been lost, laser photocoagulation can reduce the risk of vision loss, a major complication of retinal diseases.
Retinal laser photocoagulation is a minimally invasive procedure used to seal or destroy leaking blood vessels in the retina that leads to serious retinal conditions such as:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular edema
- Retinal detachment
- Retinal tear
- Macular degeneration
The laser photocoagulation procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis with a local or topical anesthetic. Patients will need someone to drive them home after the procedure, since the pupils will be dilated for several hours. After the laser photocoagulation procedure, patients may experience blurry vision and mild pain for a day or two after the procedure. Normal activities may be resumed with the surgeon’s approval.
Risks And Complications Of The Retinal Laser Photocoagulation Procedure
Laser photocoagulation carries certain risks, since it involves the retina. Patients may experience the following symptoms:
- A mild loss of central vision
- Reduced night vision
- A decreased ability to focus
The potential loss of vision caused by this procedure is far less than the severe vision loss that may occur as a result of retinal conditions like diabetic retinopathy. Benefits and risks of a retinal laser photocoagulation procedure will be discussed with the patient to determine if this procedure would be in their best interests.