Iridotomy is a surgical operation performed on the eye’s iris, the colored ring in the eye with the pupil at its center. Iridotomy uses sophisticated laser technology to perform the surgery. It is used when a person sufferers from angle-closure glaucoma.
Inside the eyeball, fluid flows through a thin strip of hard tissue called the trabecular meshwork. If fluid cannot drain through this tissue, it may build up inside the eye and cause damage to the optic nerve. This can lead to a loss of vision.
The iris may also be pushed forward due to increased pressure on the eye, blocking the eye’s drainage system completely and leading to an angle-closure glaucoma attack. If fluid is completely blocked from draining from the eye, then laser iridotomy is necessary. Iridotomy creates new channels for fluid to flow from behind the iris to the outflow drain of the eye.
When a person suffers an angle-closure glaucoma attack, there may be no obvious symptoms. This is because the attack may develop slowly. Not all people with angle-closure glaucoma experience an attack, but a doctor can recognize the risk before a patient experiences any of the symptoms.
If you do experience symptoms from an attack, they can include eye pain or headache, nausea, and vomiting. You may also suffer from disturbance of vision, red eyes, and haloes appearing around light. If the pressure is not relieved within a few hours, permanent vision loss may occur.
Before an iridotomy surgery, the surgeon applies eyedrops to numb the eye. He then places a contact lens on the eye to precisely focus the laser. The laser iridotomy surgery is performed by making a small opening in the iris to relieve the high pressure from the fluid that has built up inside the eyeball. The surgery will only last a few minutes. You may feel a small pinch-like sensation and see a bright light similar to that of a photographer’s flash.
The opening in the eye should be unnoticeable. It will leave a scar the size of a pinhead. The scar is usually located in the upper section of the iris, and the eyelid usually covers this part. After the surgery, you can go about your daily activities, but it is advisable to have someone drive you home.
As with any laser surgery, there are a few risks to laser iridotomy, including bleeding of a blood vessel in the iris. The iris may be difficult to penetrate and more than one treatment may be necessary. The loss of vision after laser iridotomy is very rare.
There are a few steps you can take to help prevent an angle-closure glaucoma attack. One step is to have regular eye exams; this will help detect any significant risks. Your ophthalmologist will use a mirrored lens to make sure the trabecular meshwork in not in danger of becoming blocked. Check to see if there is a history of angle-closure glaucoma in your family, which can place you at a higher risk. Women are more at risk than men, and people of Asian or Eskimo heritage are also more at risk and should have frequent eye checks.