Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
The greatest risk of laser iridotomy is an increase in intraocular pressure. Usually, the IOP spike is transient and of concern to the surgeon only during the first 24 hours after surgery. However, if there is damage to the trabecular meshwork during...
laser surgery, the intraocular pressure may not be lowered enough and extended medical intervention or filtration surgery is required. Patients who undergo preventative laser iridotomy do not experience as great an elevation in IOP.
The second greatest risk of this procedure is anterior uvetis, or inflammation within the eye. Usually the inflammation subsides within several days, but can persist for up to 30 days. Thus, the follow-up care for laser iridotomy includes the application of topical corticosteroids. A posterior synechia, in which the iris may again adhere to the lens, may occur if intraocular inflammation is not properly managed.
Other risks of this procedure include the following: swelling of, abrasions to, or opacification of the cornea; and damage to the corneal endothelium (the part of the cornea that pumps oxygen and nutrients into the iris); bleeding of the iris during surgery, which is controlled during surgery by using the iridotomy lens to increase pressure on the eye; and macular edema, which can be avoided by careful aim of the laser during surgery to avoid the macula. The macula is the part of the eye where the highest concentration of photoreceptors is found. Perforations of the retina are rare. Distortion of the pupil and rupture of the lens capsule are other possible complications. Opacification of the anterior part of the lens is common, but this does not increase the risk of cataract formation when compared with the general population.
When the iridotomy hole is large, or if the eyelid does not completely cover the opening, some patients report such side effects as glare and double vision. The argon laser produces larger holes. Patients may also complain of an intermittent horizontal line in their vision. This may occur when the eyelid is raised just enough such that a small section of the inferior part of the hole is exposed, and disappears when the eyelid is lowered. Blurred vision may occur as well, but usually disappears 30 minutes after surgery.
Any object that we see is a collection of light energy focused on the retina. The lens of the eye helps us see near and far things equally well. This animation describes how the lens of the eye changes to accommodate and focus light.
Laser iridotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed on the eye to treat angle closure glaucoma, a condition of increased pressure in the front chamber (anterior chamber) that is caused by sudden (acute) or slowly progressive (chronic) blockage of the normal circulation of fluid within the eye. The block occurs at the angle of the anterior chamber that is formed by the junction of the cornea with the iris. All one needs to do to see this angle is to look at a person's eye from the side. Angle closure of the eye occurs when the trabecular meshwork, the drainage site for ocular fluid, is blocked by the iris. Laser iridotomy was first used to treat angle closures in 1956. During this procedure, a hole is made in the iris of the eye, changing its configuration. When this occurs, the iris moves away from the trabecular meshwork, and proper drainage of the intraocular fluid is enabled.
Surgeons aim for results of 20/20 or better so that you can perform most daily activities without your glasses. However, there is a possibility that after surgery, you may need to wear reading glasses or corrective lenses for at least some activities.
-Eye Surgery Education Council
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