Common Procedures for Eye Diseases and Conditions
Do you have vision problems due to an eye disease or condition or want to see better without eyeglasses or contact lenses? Your ophthalmologist offers a variety of eye procedures that will help you protect or improve your eyesight.
Laser Procedures Protect Your Eyes from Glaucoma Consequences
Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside your eye is dangerously high. If the pressure isn’t reduced, vision loss may occur due to optic nerve damage. About 3 million people in the U.S. have glaucoma, which is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Medication often helps lower pressure, but sometimes medication alone isn’t enough. If medications don’t help, or if the increase in pressure occurs after your iris blocks drainage canals in your eye, you may benefit from a surgical laser procedure.
During a trabeculectomy, your ophthalmologist creates a flap in the white part of the eye to improve the drainage of fluids in the eye. If a blockage causes the change in pressure, an iridotomy may be helpful. The procedure involves making a small hole in the iris to allow fluid to flow freely once again.
Cataract Surgery Clears Your Vision
Cataracts cloud and harden the lens in your eye, causing blurry vision and light sensitivity. Removing a clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens implant (IOC) restores your vision. Surgery may be recommended if your cataracts begin to interfere with your life.
Phacoemulsification, the most commonly performed cataract procedure, involves making a small incision at the edge of your cornea to access the lens. The cornea is the curved, clear layer of tissue that covers the iris and pupil. Your ophthalmologist breaks apart the lens with a small probe that emits ultrasound waves, then pulls the pieces through the tiny opening in your eye.
If you’re not a candidate for phacoemulsification, extracapsular surgery may be an option. In this procedure, a larger incision in the cornea is made, allowing the entire cataract to be removed.
Injections Stop Leaks if You Have the Wet Form of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Leaky blood vessels in the macula causes blurred visions and blind spots if you have the wet form of AMD. The macula is the area of the retina responsible for color and central vision. Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections are often used to treat this form of AMD. Injecting the anti-VEGF agent into the vitreous prevents new blood vessels from forming. The vitreous is the clear, gel-like fluid that gives your eyeball its shape.
Injections may be combined with photodynamic therapy. The first step in the procedure involves injecting Visudyne (an anti-VEGF agent that’s absorbed by your blood vessels) into your arm. Your eye doctor then focuses a laser on your retina, activating the agent.
Several Procedures Offer Hope if You Have Diabetic Retinopathy
High blood sugar can damage vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood or fluid. Your ophthalmologist may recommend photocoagulation, a laser treatment that seals the leaks or causes abnormal blood vessels to shrink by creating tiny burns on the vessels.
Although photocoagulation can stop new leaks, you may still have trouble seeing due to blood that has already collected inside your eye. Vitrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes scar tissue and the bloody part of the vitreous can be helpful. Anti-VEGF injections may also be recommended if you have diabetic retinopathy.
LASIK Improves Your Vision Whether You’re Nearsighted, Farsighted, Have Astigmatism, or Presbyopia
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) improves your eyesight, eliminating or reducing the need for eyeglasses or contact lens. During the procedure, your ophthalmologist creates a flap in your cornea and reshapes it using a laser. Reshaping the cornea alters the way light rays bend when they enter your eye. Light rays must focus precisely on the retina for sharp, clear vision.
You’ll probably notice a significant improvement in your vision immediately after your procedure and may completely recover from the LASIK surgery in just a few days.
PRK Offers Another Vision Improvement Option
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) offers an alternative to LASIK. During PRK, your eye doctor removes the top layer of corneal cells, then uses a laser to improve the shape of your cornea. Your vision may improve more gradually with PRK, and full healing may take a month.
Could an eye procedure help you protect or improve your vision? Contact your office to schedule an appointment to discuss your eye issues.
American Academy of Ophthalmology: Glaucoma Treatment, 2/6/20
Bright Focus Foundation: Treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration
Mayo Clinic: Diabetic Retinopathy
Healthline: What’s the Difference Between PRK and LASIK?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight