The 532nm laser is used to destroy any new blood vessels and so prevent them bleeding. It can also seal leaking blood vessels.
The aim of the laser treatment is to stabilise the retina and to try and prevent it deteriorating.
In some cases the laser can beneficially affect the retina and improve vision, particularly when it prevents leakage from blood vessels.
If left untreated the retinopathy may deteriorate causing irreversible damage to your eye and your vision.
The laser is performed in the examination room using the slit lamp microscope you have been on before.
Your eye will be dilated to allow a view of the retina.
The surface of your eye will be anaesthetised with an eye drop.
A special type of contact lens will be placed on the surface of your eye. This is not painful and you will hardly know it is there. The contact lens prevents your eyelids blinking and getting in the way and also allows us to see and focus on the back of your eye.
Once the target tissue is visible the laser will be fired. You will experience this as bright flashes of light. The laser treatment is usually painless but occasionally you may feel a little pinprick. If this occurs we will try to alter the laser settings.
It is important that you keep your head and eyes still during the laser treatment.
The laser treatment can take from five minutes to an hour and is dependent on various factors including the view of the retina, the patient’s sensitivity, the retinal condition to include a few.
Immediately after the laser treatment your eye will be quite dazzled and blurred as a result of the bright light. In addition your eye will have been dilated which also causes some blurring.
This should all settle over 24 to 48 hours.
Occasionally the eye can ache following laser. If this is the case then you can take your usual analgesic tablet i.e. paracetamol.
The degree of retinopathy you have dictates how much laser you require and occasionally you will require more than one session of laser.
Often the laser can take several weeks for it to have the desired effect and it may be at this stage that you are informed that you require further laser or not.
The laser treatment is a destructive process and hence damages the part of the retina it is aimed at. If many thousands of burns are required to control the new blood vessels(generally this would be for conditions such as central retinal vein occlusion or advanced diabetic retinopathy) then the visual field of the patient can reduce and on occasions this can disqualify the patient from driving.
The benefit of laser treatment is to stabilise the retina and reduce the chance of visual deterioration.
Your doctor will be happy to discuss any questions you have regarding the laser.
It is advisable not to drive on the day of laser as a result of blurring of vision.