What Is an Argon Laser Used for in Ophthalmology?

An argon laser has multiple uses in ophthalmology.
An argon laser has multiple uses in ophthalmology.

An argon laser has multiple uses in ophthalmology. It may be used for

  1. Narrow-angle glaucoma treatment: An argon gas laser is used for trabeculoplasty for narrow-angle glaucoma. It improves the drainage of the aqueous humor (eye fluid).
  2. Repairing retinal tears and small retinal breaks: Small tears in the retina in individuals with high myopia or other diseases can be repaired with an argon laser. This prevents the risk of retinal detachment in the future.
  3. Proliferative retinopathy in people with diabetes: Abnormal blood vessel growth over the retina in people with diabetes with uncontrolled sugar levels can cause swelling and scarring of the retina. These blood vessels can be burnt with an argon laser, thus improving vision.
  4. Choroidopathies: A group of diseases (maybe due to birth defects or acquired causes such as increased blood pressure) can cause abnormal leaky blood vessels to grow over the retina. This causes swelling over the retina. These can be burnt with an argon laser as well.

It prevents an eye condition from getting worse and sometimes helps to cure it. This procedure is aimed toward the preservation of central and color vision.

What is trabeculoplasty?

Trabeculoplasty is a laser treatment for an eye condition called glaucoma. Glaucoma is a long-standing condition that damages the optic nerve due to increased eye pressure. Trabeculoplasty helps to open the drainage area of the eye and reduce the eye pressure. Nowadays, laser surgery is used for trabeculoplasty, which makes it more effective and less painful.

What happens during argon laser treatment?

This procedure does not need any hospitalization and can be carried out by an eye specialist called as an ophthalmologist.

The whole procedure requires about two hours.

Before the treatment,

  • A nurse or doctor will test your vision.
  • Your eye doctor may administer eye drops to dilate your eyes to allow your doctor to carry out the procedure. 
  • You need to wait for 30-40 minutes, so the drops start working on your eyes.
  • Your doctor will put some anesthetic eye drops in your eyes to prevent any discomfort.
  • A special contact lens will be gently placed on your eye to focus the laser beam.
  • Your doctor will ask you to sit in front of the slit-lamp for the treatment.

During the treatment,

  • Your doctor will direct a very intense beam of light onto the retina (internal surface of your eye).
  • You may see some flashes of light before your eyes.
  • It is very essential to keep your head still and not to roll it.
  • There may be a slight stinging sensation but nothing more.
  • It will take 5-45 minutes depending on your condition.

After the treatment.

  • You can leave the clinic immediately.
  • Your doctor will inform you about the follow-up visit (approximately within three months).
  • You may find that your vision is a blur for the next three to four hours.
  • You will be informed not to drive after this treatment for that day.

Is there any side effects or risk in this treatment?

Side effects include:

  • The eye drops used before the procedure may blur your vision for three to four hours even after treatment.
  • You may have swelling on your retina (the internal surface of the eye) that gradually resolves with time.
  • There is very little risk of worsening your vision clarity.
  • You may require a second treatment session.
  • It may reduce your night vision for a temporary basis (for some hours).
  • Additionally, it may reduce your color vision temporarily (for several hours).
  • You may experience some loss of peripheral vision due to laser treatment depending on your eye condition.
  • Some may experience floaters (spots before their eyes).
  • Occasionally, you may experience a headache for a week after the treatment.
  • You will be informed not to drive on that day of treatment; no other restriction on your daily activity will be required.


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WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/glaucoma-eyes

NIH: https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/101028argonlaser.pdf

Parson’s diseases of eye, 22nd edition