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Restoring Your Sight – Lasers in Eye Surgery

Posted by Jason Wickersham on

When the laser was first invented over 50 years ago, hardly anyone envisioned its use in eye surgery. Today, however, the laser has become an indispensable tool for many eye surgeons and has largely replaced the traditional scalpel in many procedures. High Power Laser Pointer are widely used, for example, to counteract the effects of diabetes, to reshape the cornea of the eye to improve sight and to remove cataracts that can impair vision.

A major advantage of the surgical laser is that the hot beam cauterizes, or seals off, small blood vessels such as those in the eye as it moves along. Another advantage is that human tissue cells do not conduct heat well, so any delicate tissue near the laser incision does not get hot and is not affected by the beam. This advantage of laser eye surgery is very helpful when a doctor must operate on a tiny area such as the retina of the eye that is surrounded by delicate tissue.

Healing the eyes

One reason that laser beams are so useful in treating the eye is that the cornea, the coating that covers the eyeball and admits light into the interior of the eye, is transparent. Since it is designed to admit ordinary light, the cornea lets in laser light just as well and remains unaffected by the Laser Pointer.

The laser beam is very useful, for example, in removing extraneous blood vessels that can form on the retina – the thin, light-sensitive membrane at the back of the eyeball on which the images of the things the eye sees are formed. The most common cause of this in the United States is diabetes, a disease characterized by high levels of blood sugar. In some advanced cases, hundreds of tiny extra blood vessels form on the retina and block light from the surface of the membrane, resulting in partial or total blindness.

The instrument most frequently used in the treatment of this condition is an argon laser. The doctor aims the beam through the cornea and burns away the tangle of blood vessels covering the retina. The procedure takes only a few minutes and can be done in the doctor’s office.

The laser beam can also repair a detached retina that has broken loose from the rear part of the eyeball. Before the advent of lasers, detached retinas had to be repaired by hand and because the retina is so delicate, this was a very difficult operation to perform. Using the argon Laser Gun, the doctor can literally “weld” the torn retina back in place.

Another condition that can be easily treated with lasers is glaucoma, which is characterized by the buildup of fluid in the eye. Normally, the eye’s natural fluids drain away a little at a time and the eye stays healthy. Glaucoma, however, prevents the fluid from draining properly and the buildup affects vision, sometimes resulting in blindness. In some cases, when the condition cannot be treated with drugs, many doctors now turn to the laser to avoid conventional eye surgery. The laser creates a tiny hole in a preplanned spot and the fluid drains out through the hole. This treatment can also be performed in a doctor’s office instead of a hospital.

Reshaping the cornea

One of the newest eye surgery related laser applications is reshaping of the cornea, a technique widely known as LASIK, which stands for Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomilensis. During this procedure, the patient’s eyeglass prescription is literally carved inside the cornea with the beam of a High Power Laser Pointer that produces pulses of ultraviolet (UV) light. A small flap of the cornea is removed with a precision knife and an inner portion of the cornea is exposed to the laser beam. After the lens prescription is carved, the corneal flap that was opened is then put back into place over the surgically altered portion of the cornea.

Cataract Eye surgery:

In some patients, the lens of the eye thickens with age, becoming opaque and no longer able to focus light on the retina. When this occurs, surgeons are often able to remove the thickened lens by pulverizing it into small particles that can be removed by suction and replacing it with an artificial lens. Before lasers, eye surgery was done by using a scalpel to make an incision in the cornea, then using ultrasound to break up the thickened lens. The same pulsed laser used in the LASIK procedure, however, can make a bloodless incision and pulverize the lens in a single operation that can be performed in the doctor’s office.

Because of the delicacy of the tissues surrounding the area targeted by the laser, the beam must be precisely controlled and directed in order to avoid unwanted collateral damage. Esco optics helps to assure this precision by supplying internal components of the different Types of Lasers such as lenses, windows and mirrors. Learn more about Esco Custom Optics here. Also have a look on pair of references for  Laser Surgery and Latest Laser Eye Surgery.

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