Laser surgery is one of the most important developments in eye care over the past 40 years. There are a wide array of applications for treating eye disease and eliminating the need for glasses and contact lenses.

What is a laser and how does it work? The word “laser” is an abbreviation for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” It can be a powerful beam that organizes photons (small particles contained in light) into a unison effort to transmit energy.

Instead of being like a hammer hitting a nail, a laser acts more like millions of tiny hammers hitting one tiny part of the nail. The energy that the laser transmits is so focused and precise it vaporizes tissue with minimal damage to the surrounding area.

There are many types of lasers used to treat many different eye disorders. Lasers are used for LASIK, cataract surgery, glaucoma as well as diabetic eye problems. All of these lasers differ slightly depending on what they will be used for. Different parts of the eye absorb different wavelengths of light and the various lasers use the color that works the best for that application.

An ophthalmologist is a surgeon who uses the laser for eye care. An optometrist’s role is in determining which patients make the best candidates for laser procedures, doing pre-surgery evaluations, and providing post-surgical care.

Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton

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