While your eyes may look and feel normal, retinal diseases can often lead to serious complications such as hemorrhaging and blindness. Some patients may be treated in the retina specialist's office with lasers used to seal or destroy leaking blood vessels and treat eye diseases. Some retina conditions may also be treated with the injection of medication into the affected area of the retina.
Laser surgery has been used to treat the following retinal conditions:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal vein occlusion
- Macular Degeneration
- Retinal detachment
- Macular edema
- Retinal tear
The laser procedure, done in the retina specialist's office, requires only anesthetic eye drops to numb the area prior to treatment. Laser surgery usually takes less than 30 minutes to perform, and patients can go home immediately following surgery. Normal activities may be resumed with the surgeon's approval. Laser retina surgery may need to be repeated in order to obtain optimal results and to manage chronic retinal conditions. Results of laser surgery may take a few weeks or months to be noticed, so it is important for the patient to follow-up with their surgeon in order to ensure that the best possible results.
The vitreous is the clear, gel-like substance that makes up the center of the eye, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the eye's volume, giving it its shape. Because of its large, soft consistency, the vitreous is commonly affected by various diseases that may cause it to cloud, fill with blood or harden, making it difficult for light to properly reach the retina. This may lead to blurred vision, tears or other serious conditions.
Patients with disease or injury to the vitreous may benefit from a vitrectomy. This procedure is done in the operating room and removes the vitreous by suctioning it out with tiny instruments that are inserted into the eye. After removal, your doctor may treat the retina with a laser, cut or remove scar tissue, flatten detached areas of the retina, or repair holes or tears in the retina. Patients may experience mild discomfort and redness for several days after this procedure, and will have their eye patched for the first day.
Although results vary depending on the individual condition treated, most patients experience improved visual acuity after this procedure. Vitrectomy is most effective in treating conditions such as macular hole, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, vitreous hemorrhage or an injury or infection in the vitreous.
Although this procedure is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any surgical procedure. Some of these risks include retinal detachment, fluid buildup, growth of new blood vessels, infection and further bleeding into the vitreous gel.