Laser is an intense light source that is used to burn, cut or dissolve tissue. In the retina, laser has various clinical purposes including: sealing retinal tears, destroying leaking or new blood vessels (neovascularization) and treating macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Laser for Retinal Tears
Occasionally, someone will develop a tear or hole in nerve tissue of the retina. The most dreaded consequence of a retinal tear or hole is a detachment of the retina where the nerve tissue falls away from the back wall of the eye. This is a blinding condition that necessitates repair in an operating room in most cases.
Detachment of the retina due to a hole or tear can usually be prevented by performing laser surgery. The area around the tear is surrounded with laser to induce greater adhesion of the retina to the back wall of the eye. This helps prevent fluid that normally is in the open cavity of the eye (the vitreous cavity) from flowing through the tear or hole and "dissecting" the retina off the back wall of the eye. Usually this can be accomplished in the office with topical anesthetic drops.