What is laser retinopexy?
Laser retinopexy uses a light beam around the hole to seal or “spot weld” the retina to the underlying tissues, stopping the retina from detaching.
What happens during the laser treatment?
Your vision and eye pressure will be checked and then you will be given eye drops to enlarge (dilate) your pupil. You may also have a wide angle photo taken to image the back of your eye (OPTOS) to check for other areas at the edges of the retina. After your Ophthalmologist has explained the procedure to you, an anaesthetic eye drop will be put in your eye to numb the surface of your eye. The eye drop will sting for a few seconds. You will be seated comfortably in front of the laser machine with your chin resting on the chin rest. The Ophthalmologist will then place a contact lens on the surface of your eye. This will focus the laser onto the back of the eye (on the retina). The Ophthalmologist surrounds the hole/weak spot with laser. You will see a series of bright flashes and may feel occasional mild discomfort.
The laser may be delivered through a special device worn on the doctor’s head (indirect ophthalmoscope) and will have you lying flat on a bed. They may also apply pressure to visualise areas very close to the edge of the retina which may feel a little uncomfortable when it is being performed (scleral indentation).
What happens after the treatment?
Immediately after the laser, you will be dazzled. Your vision will be misty for a few hours and should return to normal by the next day. If you have had an OPTOS photo performed prior to the laser treatment, this will be repeated at your next appointment shortly after the laser treatment to check the treated area. You should not drive on the day of your laser.
What are the risks?
Laser retinopexy is a widely used, safe treatment. There is a small risk that it will fail to prevent a retinal detachment in the future. There is a very small risk that the retina may bleed or develop scar tissue that distorts the vision after laser. Both of these effects could affect vision and require surgery.
Will I need further follow up?
The laser reaction takes about six weeks to fully develop. Your eye will be re- examined to check that the laser has sealed the hole/weak spots 1-2 weeks after the laser then again at 6 weeks to ensure the retina remains sealed. Thereafter, there will be ongoing follow up annually to biannually depending on the extent of area treated.