Laser treatments are used for a variety of vascular occlusions. For central vein occlusion, the purpose of the treatment is to prevent further growth of new blood vessels in the front of the eye. For branch vein occlusions and macular edema (swelling), the treatment is used to close leaky blood vessels and prevent others from breaking open.
Vascular occlusion laser treatments are the same as some of the treatments used for diabetic retinopathy.
Focal Laser Treatment is an in-office procedure used to treat macular edema, or swelling in the anterior part of the eye. Patients undergo a dilated eye examination and fluorescein angiograpm prior to the treatment in order to identify the location of leaky blood vessels that cause the swelling. During the procedure, a laser is used to seal off the leaky blood vessels and prevent further leakage. As the existing blood dissipates, the swelling is reduced. The sooner the problem is diagnosed and the earlier treatment is applied, the higher the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Grid Laser Treatment is also an outpatient procedure that is used to seal off a wider array of leaky blood vessels over a diffuse area. Because there are more leaks, there is also more swelling in the eye. The laser treatment is similar to focal laser treatment except that more leaks are sealed in the eye. Again, the object of this treatment is to reduce swelling in the eye.
Pan Retinal Photocoagulation (PRP) When swelling in parts of the eye becomes severe, it can cause ischemic tissue (oxygen-deprived tissue) to send signals to the body requesting the production of new blood vessels. These new vessels tend to be abnormal and often break open and bleed, making the situation worse. With PRP, the tissue is selectively destroyed using a laser in order to force the new blood vessels to shut down. When successful, this technique reduces the eye's demand for oxygen and stops the signal for more new blood vessels. PRP is the same day, outpatient procedure. Patients must have a clinical examination as well as fluorescein angiogram prior to the treatment. Full recovery time is roughly 90 days.