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Retinal Laser Treatment

Retinal laser treatment uses lasers that produce a pure, high-intensity beam of light energy. In ophthalmology, lasers are used to photocoagulate, cut, remove, shrink, and stretch ocular tissues.

New types of lasers and novel applications continue to be developed. Lasers were first used to treat eye disease in the early 1970s and have become the standard of care for previously untreatable disorders. For many patients, laser can preserve or prevent vision loss if given in a timely fashion.

The advantage of using lasers to treat retinal disorders is that they can be focused onto the retina, selectively treating the desired area while leaving the surrounding tissues untouched. The absorbed energy creates a microscopic spot to destroy lesions or weld tissues together.

Your eye will almost always look and feel normal with retinal diseases, even when there is haemorrhaging and leakage in the back of your eye. Your sight may also be normal for a while despite the presence of potentially blinding eye problems.

The only way to tell if you need laser surgery is to have a careful, dilated retinal examination, often followed by special testing including OCT scanning and fluorescein angiography.

Lasers are commonly used to treat the following eye conditions:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinal vein occlusions
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Retinal detachment
  • Central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC) – CSC consists of one or more “blisters” of fluid (serous detachment) beneath the macula. It can cause central blurriness, distortion, abnormal colour vision, blind spots, and temporary farsightedness. Although the vast majority of cases will resolve spontaneously, laser photocoagulation is sometimes necessary for persistent lesions.
  • Ocular tumors – Some patients will have non-cancerous leaking vascular tumors that can cause the retina to swell and not function properly. Laser surgery can destroy these tumors and allow the swelling to go away.

During surgery

There are no special preparations before eye laser treatment. You should eat normally and take your regularly prescribed medications before surgery.

Eye drops will be given to dilate the pupil and numb the eye. The treatment is performed while you are seated in a chair, similar to the one used for regular eye examinations. You will remain awake and comfortable. Treatment is usually painless, although some patients may require a numbing injection for discomfort or sensitivity to the laser light.

The laser treatment usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete, and you can go home immediately following surgery. Arrangements for transportation should be made in advance since you may not be able to drive right away.

Side effects

You should be able to resume your normal activities and work schedule the following day.

Most patients notice no vision changes following their laser surgery, although there may be some temporary blurring for several weeks to months. In addition, depending on the condition being treated, some may notice a permanent blind spot or decrease in peripheral and night vision.

It will take several weeks to months before we can tell whether the laser surgery has been successful. Many patients, however, will need more than one treatment to control their eye problem and prevent further loss of vision.

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Eye Clinic

The Eye Unit offers exceptional diagnosis, intervention and aftercare for all eye conditions using modern treatment techniques and cutting-edge diagnostics for all eye complaints.

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Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 7078 3848.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

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