glaucoma research foundation logo in black

Laser Iridotomy

This video provides a brief introduction to laser iridotomy for treating narrow-angle glaucoma.

In a healthy eye, a balance exists between the fluid produced and the fluid that leaves the eye. This balance keeps the eye pressure at a healthy level. In order to maintain balance the eye has a built-in drainage system. This drainage system controls the inflow and outflow of fluids, which is responsible for nourishing the eye. The eye’s drainage system works a lot like a sink. Fluid is produced from the faucet and exits through the drain. If a blockage develops in the eye’s drainage system, or if fluid is produced faster than it can escape, an overflow will occur. In the eye this overflow causes the pressure to elevate. The optic nerve is most vulnerable to damage from elevated pressure. Continuous elevated pressure or spikes in pressure can damage the optic nerve. If left untreated damage to the optic nerve can lead to vision loss and even blindness. The main goals of glaucoma surgery are to reduce eye pressure and prevent vision loss. When treating glaucoma one option to reduce pressure is to turn off the faucet, another option to reduce pressure is to remove the blockage that’s slowing the fluid from escaping. And the final option for reducing pressure is to create a new channel for the fluid to escape through. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you.

Narrow Angle Glaucoma — A small percentage of people with glaucoma have a condition known as narrow angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can occur slowly and progressively, or very quickly and can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. Narrow angle glaucoma usually occurs in farsighted people, because they tend to have interior chambers that are smaller than normal. In cases of narrow angle glaucoma, the iris can go forward thinning the angle that normally drains the eye. As the angle becomes smaller, fluid backs up and pressure in the eye or intraocular pressure begins to rise. If narrow angle glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause loss of vision. In some cases, narrow angle glaucoma can lead to an emergency condition known as angle closure glaucoma. For more information ask your doctor about narrow angle glaucoma. 

If you are diagnosed with narrow angle glaucoma, your doctor may perform a procedure called laser iridotomy to decrease the risk of a sudden and dangerous build-up of pressure in your eye. Before the procedure, your doctor will place drops in your eye to constrict the pupil. Then, using a precisely focused beam of laser light, your doctor will create a tiny hole in your iris. This hole acts as an alternate channel through which fluid inside the eye can flow if the usual pathway becomes blocked. Soon after the procedure is completed you may return to your normal activities. Though a laser iridotomy is sometimes performed to relieve a sudden build-up of pressure in your eye that is already underway, it is much more commonly recommended as a preventive measure, before there are any symptoms at all.

End of transcript.

back of mailing envelope. snail mail icon.

Print Subscription

We will mail Gleams anywhere in the United States and Canada, but we do not mail internationally. Please sign up for the email edition if you live outside of the US or Canada.


You can unsubscribe at any time. GRF will not share your personal information with any other organizations. Please see our Privacy Policy for further information.

folded paper airplane. email icon.

E-mail Subscription


You can unsubscribe at any time. GRF will not share your personal information with any other organizations. Please see our Privacy Policy for further information.