Research Article

Current uses of ophthalmic lasers.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 02 May 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:1161
  1. D. O'Neill,
  2. R. Gregson,
  3. D. McHugh
  1. Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.


    Current laser treatments are quick, relatively painless, and well tolerated. Some ophthalmic techniques can be performed only by laser while others have a lower morbidity than alternative treatments. Peripheral retinal photocoagulation and focal photocoagulation now offer greatly improved visual prognosis for diabetic patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular disease. Selected cases of macular degeneration may be treated by focal laser photocoagulation. The role of lasers in treating sub-retinal neovascular membranes is limited by the extent and location of the membrane at presentation and the high risk of recurrence after treatment. Patients with distorted vision must be referred urgently for specialist ophthalmic assessment. Flat retinal holes and tears may be sealed by laser therapy, thus preventing retinal detachment. Short pulsed neodymium-YAG photodisruptive capsulotomy effectively clears the visual axis of thickened posterior lens capsule after cataract surgery. Short pulsed neodymium-YAG photodisruptive iridotomy may be used to treat and prevent angle closure glaucoma. Laser trabeculoplasty aids the control of open angle glaucoma. Research is continuing into the role of other lasers in managing open angle glaucoma and of photoablative lasers in treating refractive errors and superficial corneal disorders.