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What Is Laser Surgery?

Laser surgery is performed to treat macular swelling and to prevent bleeding from abnormal retinal blood vessels. This is an office procedure in which short bursts of light are used to treat the retina. Laser surgery for macular swelling is usually done in one session and can reduce vision loss by 50 percent. Laser surgery is much better at stabilizing vision rather than improving it. Therefore, laser treatment for edema is best done before a person notices blurred vision. Lasers can be aimed with pinpoint precision. Because the laser spots are so small the procedure is usually painless.

What To Expect

Immediately after the laser, your vision will be blurred because of the bright lights and gel used for the special laser treatment lens. Vision typically improves within several minutes and returns to its pre-treatment state within one to several hours, depending on the extent of treatment performed. Laser surgery does not cure diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, more than one laser treatment may be needed.

More extensive laser treatment can be used to prevent hemorrhaging from abnormal blood vessels that grow out of the retina or optic nerve. If bleeding is already present, laser surgery may not be possible because the vitreous fluid inside your eye is too murky to allow laser light to reach the retina. The doctor will sometimes wait for the hemorrhage to clear before doing this type of laser treatment.

This may take many treatment sessions done on different days. Some people will notice decreased side vision or decreased night vision after laser treatment to stop bleeding. This is a normal side effect and is usually mild. This treatment is necessary to prevent loss of center vision or of all vision and may take several weeks to work.

The laser does not remove any blood that may be present. Therefore, floaters or spots in your vision will not necessarily go away after laser treatment. If there is no more bleeding, these hemorrhages may dissolve on their own.

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