Photocoagulation is a medical procedure that uses laser light or other forms of intense light to destroy tissue. It is most commonly used to treat eye conditions such as retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. It can also treat certain types of cancer. In photocoagulation, a high-energy beam of light passes through the eye to the retina, destroying abnormal blood vessels or tissue.
Laser surgery iridotomy, focal laser therapy, transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT)
This type of surgery destroys abnormal blood vessels in the retina. It can also be used to shrink tumors and remove tissue for biopsy.
How Photocoagulation is Performed?
The photocoagulation treatment procedure is performed by delivering a burst of light energy to the back of the eye. This light energy causes the blood vessels to seal, which prevents them from leaking and causing vision loss. In most cases, the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that you can go home the same day. You will be asked to sit in a chair and look at a target light during the procedure. The doctor will then use a special instrument to deliver the light energy to the back of your eye. You may feel a brief sensation of heat or pressure during this process, but it is generally well tolerated. The photocoagulation treatment procedure is usually performed one or more times, depending on the severity of your condition.
Preparation for Photocoagulation
- Pre-operative tests include a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging tests like x-ray or MRI.
- In some cases, you may need to be admitted to the hospital on the day of your procedure.
- You will likely be asked to avoid eating or drinking for several hours before the procedure.
- Before the procedure, you may be asked to take certain medications, such as antibiotics.
- Local anesthesia will numb the area around your eye. General anesthesia will put you to sleep during the procedure.
- You will be positioned so that your eye is accessible to the surgeon.
- A special microscope and laser are used to destroy the abnormal blood vessels in your eye.
- You will be monitored for a short time after the procedure. You may experience some side effects, such as decreased vision, redness, soreness, and swelling, which typically improve within a few days to weeks.
Procedure for Photocoagulation
Follow Up for Photocoagulation
After the photocoagulation procedure, ophthalmologists recommend that patients return 100-200 days later for follow-up care. During this appointment, the ophthalmologist will check to see how well the patient's eyes have healed and whether the photocoagulation effectively treated the patient's condition. If necessary, additional treatments may be recommended at this time. In most cases, however, patients will only need to return for routine check-ups after their initial follow-up appointment.
Risks of Photocoagulation
- There is a risk of infection associated with the procedure. This can be minimized by proper sterile technique and careful selection of patients.
- There is a risk of developing cataracts or other visual problems after photocoagulation. This is typically a long-term risk, and an ophthalmologist should follow patients closely.
- There is a small risk of bleeding or other problems with the eye during or after the procedure. This can usually be controlled with medication or surgery, but it may require hospitalization.
- There is a risk of developing permanent blind spots in the treated area if too much tissue is destroyed, so it is essential to have the procedure done by an experienced surgeon.
- There is a risk of recurrence of the condition if photocoagulation is not effective in destroying all abnormal blood vessels. This may require additional treatments or a different type of treatment.
Overall, photocoagulation is a safe and effective treatment for many eye conditions. With proper technique and experience, most risks can be minimized. If you are considering this procedure, be sure to discuss all of the risks and benefits with your surgeon.
Recovery for Photocoagulation
After the procedure, you will be observed in the recovery room for a short time. Once you are awake and alert, you will be able to go home. You may experience a mild discomfort and blurred vision for a day or two. It is important to avoid rubbing your eyes and wear sunglasses outdoors. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on caring for your eyes and when to return for a follow-up visit. Recovery times vary depending on the type of photocoagulation performed. For instance, if you have diabetic retinopathy, you may need to have the procedure repeated every few months to keep the condition under control. In general, however, most people only require one treatment.