Two Advances In Laser Surgery That Can Change Your Life

Posted on: 3 February 2015

The health and medical field is reaping perhaps the most life-changing results of recent advances in technology -- particularly surgical innovations. For many patients, traditional surgery was too risky a proposition to undertake due to age or health conditions. In the past few years, lasers have evolved enough to allow surgeons to perform "blood-free" operations that previously required general anesthesia or an extensive recovery. Read on to learn more about two recent advances in laser surgery that may be able to change your life.

Eye surgery

Lasik surgery for vision correction has been around since the late 1990s, but in recent years these lasers have become advanced enough to correct everything from diabetic retinopathy to glaucoma and other potentially blinding disorders.

  • Diabetic retinopathy

Blindness is often an unfortunate side effect of ill-controlled diabetes, and this blindness is usually due to a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes leakage from the tiny blood vessels that transport oxygen to your eyes -- when these vessels leak, they are unable to efficiently provide your vision cells with oxygen and these cells eventually die. However, with the use of laser surgery to help cauterize these blood vessels, you and your ophthalmologist can be proactive in preserving your vision for decades.

  • Glaucoma

As the leading cause of blindness worldwide, untreated glaucoma can cause a major change in lifestyle -- causing you to lose your job, your ability to drive, and your ability to perform household tasks. What makes glaucoma harmful is its ability to raise the pressure in your eye. After a prolonged period of high pressure, your optic nerve will begin to lose its ability to focus and transmit images to your brain.

However, there is now a fairly simple surgical way to reduce the pressure in your eye caused by glaucoma and ensure that your vision remains stable. The surgeon will use a laser to make a tiny flap, called a bleb, in your eye's drainage system. This will allow additional ocular fluid to drain into your sinuses, reducing your overall eye pressure.

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgery

Another area that has seen unprecedented advances in life-altering technology has been the ENT field. This specialty deals with everything from tonsillectomies and frequent ear infections in children to dangerous conditions like sleep apnea and vocal cord polyps for adults.

  • Sleep apnea

This is a potentially dangerous disorder that, when untreated, may raise your risk for heart attack and stroke. If you have sleep apnea, you may stop breathing multiple times per night. In severe cases, you'll stop breathing for up to a minute, or suffer hundreds of smaller sleep interruptions during the course of the night. Over time, this inability to reach a deep sleep will raise your blood pressure and cholesterol and increase your risk for cardiac disorders.

Sleep apnea can be caused by a number of factors, and in some cases a specific cause can't be identified. However, there are several laser treatments that can assist patients with sleep apnea, regardless of the cause of their breathing interruption. In many cases, a surgeon will need only to use a laser to reduce the size of your epiglottis (the piece of stretchy tissue in the back of your throat) to prevent this tissue from falling back during your sleep and blocking your airway.

  • Throat polyps

Some individuals may be prone to the overgrowth of small masses of tissue, or polyps, in their throats and on their vocal cords. If left untreated, these polyps may eventually interfere with the ability to eat, speak, and breathe. However, some individuals may not be healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia or suffer the blood loss associated with traditional polyp-removal surgery. By using a laser, surgeons are able to perform the same surgery by administering only a local anesthetic and an anti-anxiety medication to help the patient relax.

For more information on how laser surgery can treat a variety of conditions, go to sites like this one.