Glaucoma is often a silent, sight-stealing eye disease that requires timely treatment to preserve your remaining vision. Laser iridotomy is the first-line treatment for those with closed-angle glaucoma. The procedure also works as a preventative measure for eyes at risk of vision loss from increased eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Our Ophthalmologists at St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute can help you determine if laser iridotomy is best for you.
What is Closed-Angle Glaucoma?
Glaucoma comes in several forms and is traditionally characterized by the buildup of fluid (aqueous humor) inside the eye that increases intraocular pressure. That buildup puts stress on the optic nerve, which is responsible for relaying messages to the brain to turn light into images. Elevated eye pressure eventually damages the optic nerve, causing irreversible vision loss.
Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the angled space between the clear part of the front of your eye (cornea) and the colored portion (iris) is blocked or “closed” at the meeting point. Spongy tissue called the trabecular meshwork is found where these parts collide, and is essential to draining fluid from the eye. The trabecular meshwork is the primary structure that directs fluid from inside the eye, but it is also where it meets the highest resistance during outflow. The blockage or angle-closure may happen gradually or suddenly, in which case it is a medical emergency to lower eye pressure and salvage your eyesight.
How Does Laser Iridotomy Work?
Laser iridotomy surgically creates a hole just outside the pigmented part of your eye to open and widen the angle between the iris and cornea. Our eye surgeon restores proper fluid outflow by exposing the trabecular meshwork. Eye drops are used about 30 minutes before the procedure to shrink your pupil and numb your eye.
The laser iridotomy procedure uses a focused beam of light to create the tiny opening, approximately the size of a pinhead. The fluid trapped behind the iris can flow in front of the eye, lowering eye pressure. Laser iridotomy is an outpatient surgery that takes five to 10 minutes, and most patients experience little to no discomfort. You may have temporary blurred vision, light sensitivity, headache or eye redness during recovery. Our Ophthalmologist will measure your eye pressure shortly after the procedure, and prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops to help you recover.
This standard treatment for closed-angle glaucoma can preserve your remaining vision and prevent the eye disease from progressing. However, it may not work in up to 25% of cases and require further laser surgery and treatment to save your eyesight and quality of life.
Without surgery or other treatment, your eye pressure will continue to increase, leading to permanent vision loss and blindness. People who have laser iridotomy still need to use eye drop medications to regulate intraocular pressure.
Laser Iridotomy Candidates
Laser iridotomy is typically used to treat an acute closed-angle attack which occurs when eye pressure increases rapidly because the drainage angle is completely blocked and requires immediate treatment. If you have closed-angle glaucoma and your eye pressure is within normal limits without optic nerve damage, laser iridotomy can prevent the eye disease from escalating and causing vision loss. Closed-angle glaucoma is diagnosed using a gonioscopy test during regular eye exams.
Contact St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute
Our Ophthalmologists will discuss your glaucoma treatment options during your regular eye exam. Contact us immediately or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience severe eye pain, blurry vision, headache and nausea or vomiting, as these are symptoms of an acute closed-angle attack.