Laser photocoagulation for the retina was first used in the 1940s and since then became a major advancement in the treatment of retinal pathology. Laser application for treatment of retinal problems is vast and it is difficult to imagine a contemporary retinal practice without laser delivering devices.
Retinal laser essentially delivers heat energy to treat the retina. This energy can create adhesion between the retina and eye wall (to treat retinal tears, holes, and retinal detachment), ablate diseased tissue causing abnormal blood vessel growth (panretinal photocoagulation), or seal areas of leakage which cause retinal swelling (focal and grid laser).
Laser is delivered using specialized lenses held by the physician. Some lenses may rest against the patient's eye, while others may be held just in front of the patient's eye.
Laser treatment is generally well tolerated in the office, but may be performed in the hospital when treating children and some adults. Laser usually has no appreciable side effects, but can cause transient pain and may cause temporary blurred vision for 15 to 20 minutes after the procedure. Rarely, laser can cause difficulty reading, poor pupil function, decreased peripheral vision, and occasionally spots in the central vision.