How are lasers used to treat eye complications?

Laser therapy is used to directly burn cancer cells in the eye. Because this technique is focused and powerful, it can be useful for treating small melanoma tumors. It is particularly useful in situations where radiation therapy would risk damaging the optic nerve. However, there is a risk that laser therapy could cause damage to the eye.

There are two different ways that lasers are used to treat eye diseases:

Thermal Lasers (Argon and Krypton). The light is converted to heat when it reaches the eye.

The heat is used to:

  • Seal blood vessels (veins and arteries) that are bleeding or leaking fluids
  • Destroy abnormal tissue such as a tumor
  • Bond the retina to the back of the eye
  • Open the eye’s filtration system for glaucoma treatment
  • Create an opening in the iris for treatment of narrow-angle glaucoma

Photodisruptive Lasers (YAG and Excimer). The light cuts or sculpts the tissue, similar to a knife. The beam of light is used to:

  • Cut thin membranes inside the eye that are blocking vision
  • Change the shape of the eye’s surface.

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