Laser Iridotomy for Glaucoma

Surgery Overview

Laser iridotomy uses a very focused beam of light to create a hole on the outer edge, or rim, of the iris, the colored part of the eye. This opening allows fluid (aqueous humor) to flow between the anterior chamber, the front part of the eye, and the area behind the iris, the posterior chamber. This opening may decrease pressure in the eye and usually prevents sudden buildup of pressure within the eye, which occurs during an episode of acute closed-angle glaucoma.

Some people feel a mild but sharp sensation in the eye during this procedure. But there usually is no pain after laser iridotomy.

What To Expect

Laser iridotomy can be done without a hospital stay. You may need to see your doctor 1 hour after laser surgery. You will also need to see the doctor for a follow-up exam as recommended.

Why It Is Done

Laser iridotomy is mainly used to try to:

  • Treat closed-angle glaucoma after the pressure in the affected eye has been reduced with medicine or when medicines fail.
  • Prevent closed-angle glaucoma in people who have narrow drainage angles and those people who have had closed-angle glaucoma in their other eye.

How Well It Works

Laser iridotomy may prevent further episodes of sudden (acute) closed-angle glaucoma. It also may prevent slow-forming (subacute) closed-angle glaucoma in people who are at risk for the condition.

Risks

Complications of laser iridotomy may include:

  • Brief blurred vision (common).
  • Swelling of the clear covering (cornea) of the iris.
  • Bleeding.
  • Increased pressure in the eye.

Later complications may include:

  • Further clouding of the lens (cataract) compared to what was present before laser treatment.
  • Closure of the opening.
  • Recurrent closed-angle glaucoma.
  • Development of another type of glaucoma.
  • Continuing need for medicines (depends on the person's condition before laser treatment).
  • Glare or double vision from light entering through the new opening.

Credits

Current as of: April 29, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christopher J. Rudnisky MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology