Laser Iridotomy

What is laser Iridotomy?

Laser iridotomy is a laser procedure that makes a small opening in the iris (the coloured part of the eye) to relieve increased eye pressure due to a type of glaucoma called angle-closure glaucoma.

When is it necessary?

A laser iridotomy is necessary as an emergency when a patient is diagnosed with angle closure glaucoma or it can be performed as a preventative treatment in eyes deemed at risk for angle-closure glaucoma.

What is Angle-closure Glaucoma?

Angle closure glaucoma occurs when the drainage system of the eye (trabecular meshwork) becomes blocked and the pressure inside the eye increases The rise in pressure could damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.

How do I prevent an angle-closure attack?

An eye at risk for angle-closure glaucoma can be detected as part of a regular eye exam. Using a mirrored lens, your ophthalmologist can determine if the trabecular meshwork is in danger of being blocked.

Risk Factors

People of Asian or Eskimo ancestry have a higher risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma. Increasing age, family history and female gender may also be risk factors.

What are the symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma?

Not all people with angle-closure glaucoma experience an attack. When angle-closure glaucoma develops slowly, there are no obvious symptoms. Symptoms of an attack of angle-closure glaucoma may include: headache or eye pain, blurred vision, haloes around lights, a red eye and nausea and vomiting.

What can I expect if I have a laser iridotomy?

The procedure is performed as an out patient in the eye clinic at the hospital. You will be given drops to constrict the pupil and to numb the eye. A special lens will be placed on the eye and the laser will be performed. It takes only a few minutes. It is relatively pain free, however, you may feel a slight pinching sensation. Following the procedure the vision may be slightly blurred for a few hours, however normal activity can be resumed. You will be prescribed an anti-inflammatory drops to used three days after the laser treatment.


Loss of vision after laser iridotomy is rare. The main risks of the procedure include:

Rarely a second laser treatment may be required to penetrate the iris. A blood vessel in the iris may bleed  but bleeding only lasts a few minutes. Occasionally you may notice a small horizontal line or light visible through the new hole in the iris. This symptom is most often temporary.