How We Use Lasers in Ophthalmology
Lasers have been around for a long time, but many people still think of them as futuristic science-fiction props. The truth is, the real-world applications of lasers are more varied than what you’ll see in most sci-fi movies. While we may never have handheld laser guns, scientists have developed far more constructive uses for this incredible technology. The word “laser” has become such a common part of our everyday lexicon that many people don’t even realize that it’s an acronym: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Likewise, the wide variety of practical applications for which we use lasers in science, medicine, research, and commercial industry aren’t well understood by much of the public. At Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons, we use laser technology to correct a multitude of eye-health and vision problems.
Few appreciate how many different eye conditions can be treated with the help of lasers. The laser has been used for ophthalmological applications since almost as soon as the first one was built in 1960. Since then, several major advancements in laser technology have been combined with our increasingly sophisticated understanding of the human eye to make the laser one of our most effective and versatile tools. Here are three of the most common conditions for which we use lasers in eye surgery:
This is probably the most commonly known use of lasers in ophthalmology. Before advancements of the femtosecond laser made LASIK eye surgery viable a couple of decades ago, the only ways to safely and reliably correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism were glasses and contact lenses. Today, most forms of nearsightedness and farsightedness, as well as some types of astigmatism, can be corrected relatively quickly and painlessly with LASIK and similar alternatives like photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).
Cataract surgery is one of the more routine procedures that ophthalmologists perform. In fact, it’s currently the most commonly performed surgery in the world. A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes clouded, so cataract surgery entails removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL). Introducing lasers into cataract surgery has allowed us to make this tested procedure even safer and more accurate than ever before. At Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons, we recently started using Alcon AcrySof® IQ PanOptix® IOLs, which offer the very best image quality, continuous range of vision in virtually all lighting conditions, and more comfortable near-to-immediate vision than previous generations of IOLs. Coupled with Alcon’s LenSx® laser, these IOLs allow for unparalleled precision and effectiveness.
This condition occurs when blood vessels that line the retina at the back of the eye become damaged. Retinopathy is usually the result of untreated diabetes, but other conditions, such as sickle-cell disease, atherosclerosis, and hypertension, may also trigger it. Photocoagulation treatment uses a laser to shrink and eliminate the ends of any damaged blood vessels, preventing further damage and vision loss.
These are just three of the most common uses of lasers in ophthalmology. We often employ laser technology to treat glaucoma, posterior capsule opacification, diabetic macular edema, and more. If you’d like to learn more about what lasers can do for your eyes, or if you’re interested in any of the many other services or products we offer, contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons to schedule an appointment today. Be sure to follow Dr. William Segal and Dr. Marc Lay on Facebook and Twitter for more eyecare information, fun facts, and the latest news and updates about eye health.