Laser is a common treatment method within the eye for visual impairment and complications caused by conditions such as diabetic retinopathy or retinal vein occlusion. It often works by targeting and reducing the growth of abnormal blood vessels or fluid leakage. Different types of retinal laser are recommended for different conditions and symptoms, these are; pan-retinal photocoagulation (PRP) and macular laser.
What is Pan-Retinal Photocoagulation (PRP)?
PRP is a type of laser treatment, used specifically when patients have developed abnormal blood vessels in the retina. This often occurs as a result of severe diabetic retinopathy or following retinal vein occlusion causing an impairment in the blood supply to the retina. To avoid permanent damage, PRP is recommended.
How does it work?
PRP works by a laser targetting these new blood vessels and encouraging them to shrink and scar in order to prevent more from growing, and helps avoid bleeding into the vitreous jelly of the eye. Without this treatment, there is a risk of loss of vision if the condition develops.
On the day…
Pan-retinal photocoagulation laser is carried out as an outpatient procedure at one of our Hertfordshire clinics by the trusted surgeon, Venki Sundaram.
- Once you are comfortable, a local anaesthetic is administered and a contact lens is placed on the eye to enhance focus on the retina.
- The laser is then applied to the appropriate area. Please be aware that you will see bright flashes of light and may experience small discomfort.
- The procedure will only take around 10 minutes to complete, however, more laser sessions may be required depending on how well the first has worked. This will be assessed after 4-6 weeks.
- Your vision will be blurred for a short time afterwards so it is crucial that you do not drive yourself to or from the hospital. Aside from this, no special precautions need to be taken following PRP laser treatment.
Are there any risks or serious side effects of PRP laser?
Although an extremely safe treatment, there are some small complications that may occur following the procedure. These include;
- A reduction in peripheral vision, increasing after multiple laser sessions. (driving requirements and safety may need to be discussed if severe)
- Reduced night vision
- Inflammation in the eye leading to mild scar formation or swelling that may affect vision.
- In rare cases, your vision may worsen as a result of bleeding from beneath the retina or burn to the centre of the retina from the laser.
What is Macular Laser?
Macular laser is a type of treatment used to treat leakage of fluid from the macula region in the retina as opposed to growth of blood vessels. The macula is part of the retina that is responsible for detailed vision therefore any fluid that leaks into this area can lead to a loss of central vision. This can occur as a result of conditions such as Diabetic Macular Oedema and Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion.
How will treatment improve symptoms?
Small lasers help dry up and reduce leakage of fluid to this area in the eye. This is strongly advised and if not treated, damage can be caused to the retina, permanently affecting your central vision.
Macular laser will prevent vision from getting worse with some patients even experiencing improved vision following this treatment.
What is the procedure for Macular Laser?
The procedure on the day is very similar to that of pan-retinal photocoagulation. The differences are that a slightly different contact lens is used, in order to gain a highly magnified view of the macula when carrying out the treatment. Also, a fewer number of laser spots are needed as well as a lower laser intensity.
Please be aware that further laser treatment may be necessary in the future, depending on the outcome of your 3-month follow up assessment.
Are there any risks involved?
As outlined above, retinal laser is generally a very safe procedure. However, there are possible complications to be aware of;
- Temporary distortion of vision.
- Scar formation and potential spots in vision.
- In rare cases, macular burn from direct contact with the laser.
- Further leakage of fluid.
Macular laser has a high success rate of preventing serious vision loss in 60-70% of patients. PRP is known to be more successful, however, it entirely depends on your treatment needs and the most appropriate will be advised.
Receive retinal laser treatment in Hertfordshire…
If you are in need of retinal laser treatment or would like to find out more about this procedure, get in touch today and we can arrange an introductory appointment at one of our Hertfordshire clinics.