Laser Iridotomy for Narrow-Angle Glaucoma
Laser Iridotomy uses a focused beam of light to create a small hole in the iris, which allows fluid to drain from the back of the eye to the front of the eye. This opening helps decrease eye pressure, and is normally positioned towards the top the iris where it is less visible.
The iridotomy opening also helps to prevent a sudden buildup of pressure within the eye, which can occur during an episode of acute narrow-angle glaucoma. In cases where pressure builds rapidly without an iridotomy, the result is often permanent vision loss due to optic nerve damage.
Laser Iridotomy: The Procedure
The procedure does not require a surgery center, and can be performed in a specially equipped laser room.
Laser Iridotomy Day:
Drops will first be used to numb your eye; no injections, no needles. A special contact lens will then be placed on your eye to focus the laser onto the iris. The lens also keeps your eyelids separated so you don’t blink, while reducing small eye movements during the procedure.
To make sure the special lens doesn’t scratch the eye, a gel will be applied to the surface of the eye. The gel may remain on your eye for up to 30 minutes, which can lead to blurred vision and/or a heavy feeling.
During the procedure, a bright light might be visible, somewhat like a camera flash from a very close distance. Some patients also experience a sensation best described as a pinch.
Following a Laser Iridotomy:
Eye pressure will be checked shortly after the procedure has been completed, and follow-up visits to monitor eye pressure will also be required. Finally, eye drops may be prescribed to help alleviate any swelling or soreness inside the eye.
Laser Iridotomy Recovery:
For a few days following the procedure, eyes may be red, feel a little scratchy, and be somewhat sensitive to light. Everyone heals somewhat differently, but most patients are able to resume normal activities immediately following treatment. That said, please keep in mind you’ll need to have someone drive you home the day of your procedure.
Laser Iridotomy: What to Expect
While a Laser Iridotomy alone is effective in reducing and controlling eye pressure for many patients, certain patients will still require medications or other treatments to keep eye pressure sufficiently low.
These additional treatments are sometimes necessary when damage to the trabecular meshwork existed prior to the iridotomy, or if another type of glaucoma is present in addition to the closed-angle variety.
Laser Iridotomy: Risks
One main risk of a laser iridotomy is a difficult to penetrate iris, which requires more than one treatment session. Another risk is the opening in the iris closing over time, which might also lead to an additional treatment session (happens less than 1/3 of the time).
More serious complications resulting from laser iridotomy are extremely rare, but like with any medical procedure, it does come with some risks.
To learn more, or to find out if you are a candidate for a Laser Iridotomy, please Call (512) 528-1144 or Contact Us.