Laser Treatment (Photocoagulation)

Treatment Options

About Laser Treatment 

Many retinal disorders involve abnormal or damaged blood vessels. These vessels may leak blood into the surrounding area, resulting in gradual vision loss. With laser treatment, the high energy light beam seals the capillaries shut. Closing the blood vessels may not restore your vision. But it can prevent the blood from leaking out of the capillaries. This stops the condition from getting any worse.

During laser treatment, a laser is used to close leaky blood vessels in the eye. It may be used to treat:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal vein occlusions

During treatment:

  • Your eyes will be temporarily numbed with local anesthetic eye drops
  • Eye drops are used to widen your pupils
  • A contact lens is used to hold your eyelids open
  • The laser beam is focused on your retina

The entire procedure normally takes 20-40 minutes, so you should not have to stay in the hospital overnight. You may need to come back for another round of laser treatment. Because of the anesthetic, the treatment should not be painful.


Side effects:

Some patients experience side effects after laser treatment. These typically last no more than a few hours.

  • Blurry vision
  • More sensitive to light
  • Aching or discomfort

Blurry vision may be a side effect, but it could also be a natural result of the eye drops given before the laser procedure. For this reason, patients will not be able to drive home or ride the bus alone. All patients should be accompained by another adult. Wearing sunglasses can help if your eyes are more sensitive to light.

Risks & Complications:

Complications are rare, but they do exist. They may include:

  • Reduced night vision
  • Less side vision
  • Bleeding into the eye
  • Seeing floaters (fuzzy black shapes floating in your vision)
  • Being able to “see” the laser’s path on the back of your eye (This may be normal right after the surgery, but should go away within a few weeks)
  • A small blind spot in the center of your field of vision

If you experience any of these symptoms or vision loss, get medical help right away.