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Retinal laser photocoagulation is a minimally invasive procedure used to seal or destroy leaking blood vessels in the retina that lead to serious retinal conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. This procedure can also seal retinal tears and destroy abnormal tissue found in the back of the eye.
During laser photocoagulation, laser burns are made on the retina to target leaking blood vessels or treat the peripheral retina to slow the growth of new abnormal vessels. While it generally cannot restore vision that has already been lost, it can reduce the risk of further vision loss, a major complication of retinal diseases.
This procedure is performed with a local or topical anesthetic in the office. Patients will need someone to drive them home after the procedure, since the pupils will be dilated for several hours. Your vision may also be blurry and you may experience mild pain for a day or two after the procedure. You can resume normal activities immediately and no prescription medications are typically required afterwards.
Laser photocoagulation carries certain risks, since it involves burning and destroying part of the retina. Patients may experience a mild loss of central vision, reduced night vision and a decreased ability to focus. However, the potential vision loss caused by this procedure is far less than the severe vision loss that can occur as a result of retinal conditions like diabetic retinopathy. Since it is non-invasive, there is no risk of infection.
Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of this procedure with you to help you decide whether or not retinal laser photocoagulation is right for you.