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Laser coagulation or laser photocoagulation surgery is used to treat a number of eye diseases and has become widely used in recent decades. During the procedure, a laser is used to finely cauterize ocular blood vessels to attempt to bring about various therapeutic benefits.
The surgery is used in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration, having been proven to lower the risk of severe vision loss from these diseases, which are the two leading causes of blindness in the United States. Other eye diseases it is used to treat include retinal ischemia, neovascularization of the choroid or retina, glaucoma, and a complication of cataract surgery known as posterior capsular opacification.
Types of lasers used
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Depending on the disease various laser types are used. Green (532 nm) laser is generally used for treating retinal diseases. Nd:YAG or Nd:YVO4 lasers are used for removing posterior capsule after cataract surgery and for treating Glaucoma cases. Other frequency lasers are also used in various therapies like Trans Pupillary Thermotherapy, Photo Dynamic Therapy, Yellow lasers for some retinal conditions. Argon or diode laser is used for macular and panretinal photocoagulation in cases of diabetic maculopathy as well as diabetic retinopathy.
Side effects and complications of laser photocoagulation are not infrequent although they are rarely severe. They include loss of peripheral vision, worsening visual acuity, reduced night vision, and hemorrhaging in the eye.
Results from a systematic review with 11 trials and 2159 participants suggests that laser coagulation treatment is effective in removal of drusen but does not reduce the risk of developing choroidal neovascularization.
- Lawrence, Peter F; Bell, Richard M; Dayton, Merril T (2006). Essentials of Surgical Specialties. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.