Your condition

The retina is the light sensitive layer that lines the inside of the eye. If the retina is unable to function properly visual loss can result. Like an old pair of jeans, the retina can thin with age and holes or tears can form.

As the jelly in front of the retina (vitreous) degenerates into a watery state, it can pull on the thin weak parts of the retina causing a break in the retina. If the watery component then seeps through a hole or tear in the retina, it can cause a retinal detachment.

Two diagrams of an eye showing a hole in the retina (sensitive layer that lines the inside of the eye).
Two diagrams of an eye showing a hole in the retina (sensitive layer that lines the inside of the eye).

What does the laser do and how does it work?

Labeled diagram of the eye showing retinal tear and the location of laser treatment.

This type of thermal laser, also known as barrier laser, is used to create scar tissue around the hole or tear. Like welding, this procedure will attach the retina to the layers underneath it more firmly. If caught early enough, barrier laser will usually prevent progression to retinal detachment.

What to expect

  • You will be in the hospital for at least 2 hours.
  • You will be given drops to dilate your pupil (make it large) which last for several hours, so you will be unable to drive home.
  • Local anaesthetic drops will also be put in your eye before the procedure.
  • Treatment is delivered through a lens which rests against your eye.
  • Your vision may be somewhat blurred and you may continue to see the same flashes and floaters following the treatment.  These usually settle down over several weeks, however any new changes in vision warrants a re-examination immediately.
  • The side effects may include pain and sensitivity to light (photophobia) which may require some pain relief. Wearing sunglasses (with your prescription, if required) can make the trip home more comfortable.
  • Please arrange for someone to pick you up and drive/take you home.

More information

The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Phone: (03) 9929 8666

Disclaimer This document describes the generally accepted practice at the time of publication only. It is only a summary of clinical knowledge regarding this area. The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital makes no warranty, express or implied, that the information contained in this document is comprehensive. They accept no responsibility for any consequence arising from inappropriate application of this information.

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  • Laser Retinopexy #160
  • Owner: Laser
  • Last Reviewed: June 28, 2023
  • Next Review: June 28, 2028