Laser Surgery

There are several types of laser surgery used to treat glaucoma. The type of laser surgery will depend on the form of glaucoma and how severe it is. A laser is a tiny, powerful beam of light that can make a very small burn or opening in your eye tissue, depending on the strength of the light beam. Laser surgeries may be performed in our office or in a hospital setting.

What to expect

Special eye drops are used to numb your eye. Then we use a microscope to focus the light beam on exactly the right place in your eye. The light beam passes harmlessly through the outer covering of your eye and makes an opening only where it is focused.

During laser surgery, you will see a bright light – like a camera flash – and you may feel a faint tingling sensation. Afterward, your eye may be slightly irritated, and you should take it easy for a day or so.

Your eye pressure must be checked often after laser surgery, and your pressure may not go down to a safe level for many weeks. Although laser surgery may not permanently control your eye pressure, it can often delay the need for microsurgery.

Types of Laser Surgery

Laser Iridotomy

Laser iridotomy is used to treat narrow-angle glaucoma. In laser iridotomy, a very focused beam of light creates a hole on the outer edge, or rim, of the iris, the colored part of the eye. This opening allows fluid to flow between the anterior chamber, the front part of the eye, and the area behind the iris, the posterior chamber. This opening may decrease pressure in the eye and usually prevents sudden buildup of pressure within the eye, which occurs during an episode of acute closed-angle glaucoma.

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Laser Trabeculoplasty (LT)

Argon laser trabeculoplasty (LT) is a procedure used to treat several different types of glaucoma. LT is often recommended when medicine alone cannot control eye pressure, as well as for patients who have difficulty tolerating glaucoma medications or are unable to use eye drops.

During LT, a laser is directed into the trabecular meshwork, which is the primary drainage region of the eye. The trabecular meshwork is located in the angle of the eye, where the cornea meets the iris. The procedure increases drainage of aqueous fluid out of the eye, thereby lowering the intraocular pressure.

LT can be conducted in the office or as an out-patient procedure.

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Cililary Body Treatments

One of the ways to treat glaucoma is to decrease the amount of fluid production in the eye from the cells that make the fluid. Cililary body treatments use either a cryoprobe (a freezing probe) or a laser to treat cells that make the fluid in the eye. These procedures cause the cells to decrease their usual production.

Cililary body treatments are usually used for those with very severe glaucoma damage that is not being managed by standard glaucoma surgery.

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*Supplemental information courtesy of Glaucoma Research Foundation

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Glaucoma Institute of Austin

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