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How are lasers used in Ophthalmology?

Lasers have the following applications in ophthalmology:

  • Periorbital skin rejuvenation.
  • Treatment of vascular and pigmented eyelid lesions.
  • Reshape the cornea in vision correction to improve nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.   Refractive surgical procedures include LASIK.
  • Remove/reduce certain superficial defects such as band keratopathy in the cornea.  The procedure is called phototherapeutic keratoplasty.
  • Place a window in a membrane called the posterior capsule if it opacifies following cataract surgery.  The capsule holds the intraocular lens implant in place.  The procedure is called YAG capsulotomy.
  • Create a hole in the peripheral iris to prevent or treat an acute attack of narrow angle glaucoma.   The procedure is called laser peripheral iridotomy.
  • Place spots in the meshwork ("drain" of the eye) to lower eye pressure in open angle glaucoma.  The procedure is called laser trabeculoplasty.
  • Place spots in the ciliary body (produces fluid in the eye) to lower eye pressure in severe glaucomas.  The procedure is called diode laser cyclophotocoagulation.
  • Place spots in the peripheral retina to treat proliferative diabetic retinal disease.  The procedure is called panretinal photocoagulation.
  • Place spots in the central retina for leakage in diabetic macular edema.  The procedure is called focal retinal photocoagulation.
  • Place spots in the peripheral retina for progressing retinopathy of prematurity.  The procedure is called retinal photocoagulation.
  • Treat certain types of wet age-related macular degeneration, a disease characterized by distorted central vision and damage to the central portion of the retina.  One procedure is called focal retinal photocoagulation, and one procedure is called photodynamic therapy.

Updated October 5, 2010


The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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