What Can I Do About the Side Effects of an Iridotomy?

April 27, 2010

I had laser surgery 10 months ago. An iridotomy was done to my eyes, because I have narrow angles. During and after the procedure I was in great pain, but the pain stopped 3 days later. Ever since the surgery I see a broad fluorescent white line in the middle of my vision, which drives me crazy. Besides, I have double vision and am extremely sensitive to light. My IOP was 15/16 before surgery and is now around 30. I now need glaucoma drops, which I didn’t need before. My visual acuity dropped from 20/20 in both eyes to 20/80 in my left eye and 20/100 in my right eye.

Is there any chance that the white line, the double vision, and the glare will eventually go away, that my visual acuity will improve and that my IOP will come down? My doctor says sometimes iridotomies have these side effects and I have to put up with it. Why didn’t he tell me before he performed the iridotomies? I am absolutely desperate. I lost my job because of my poor vision after the surgery. Can anyone help me?




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91 Responses to “What Can I Do About the Side Effects of an Iridotomy?”

  • Leslie

    I had an iridotomy performed in both eyes – one at a time. I was very worried before the procedure. I went to an experienced glaucoma specialist who performs the procedure frequently. Since this procedure is the only way to guarantee that my optic nerve would not be damaged, I had to do this. The hole was made at 9 or 3. I actually had to have the procedure twice in each eye because the hole was too small the first time and there was too much debris to enlarge on the first round. My vision is the same as before the iridotomy! No pain! No blurred vision. No white lines or extra light. Glad I did it! I wouldn’t hesitate to have it done now that I know how it went. No big deal! I would just recommend that you go to a glaucoma specialist who does this procedure often!

  • Steve Trottier

    I’d read all of the horror stories online about the after effects. Here’s what happened with me:
    I had a peripheral (lpi) which creates the hole on the outer edge of the iris, farthest away from the nose. Immediately after, I saw a ‘ghost’ image when looking at the lights in the room. There was also a ‘glare’ that’s difficulty to describe. He told me to wait and see (he was not being dismissive or anything like that). As I drove home, I didn’t notice it anymore. It did return later on, as the sun began to set. The ghost image was horrible and I spent the first evening stressed and angry. It seemed that darker rooms were much worse. I also had a discomfort in that eye (when in a dark room). My only hope was that the next morning things would be better. They weren’t.
    That day I had a service call out of town, so I spent most of the day outside. I didn’t notice the glare or the ghost in daylight, which I looked on as a positive. By the time I got back to the shop and did my paperwork, it was dark. I thought this would be a good chance to see how bad the ghost is with car headlights. To my surprise, the headlights were fine! When I got home, I looked into the lights that were giving me problems the day before, and the ghost/glare was gone!!! Upon closer inspection, I did find that the ghost was still there, but I had to hunt for it. By the next day, I could not see the ghost. After 3 days, I’ve completely forgotten about it because it’s a non-issue. I think it may have been caused by the pupil constrictor drops that they put in. It forces your pupil to constrict. In daylight, you don’t notice anything because your pupil would naturally constrict anyway. But in dark rooms, it wants to open but can’t. This leaves your vision artificially darker than it should be. This could account for the ghost being so prominent, and why I had discomfort in dark rooms – my pupil wanted to open, but the drops were stopping it. After 24 hours, the drop’s effect had subsided. That’s just my theory.
    Anyway, my vision is great, and I no longer have to worry about an acute attack.
    100% satisfied, and stress free!

  • karyn

    I had a laser iridotomy 6 weeks ago and have had a white line thru my vision ever since. It’s driving me mad. Will it go away?

  • Karyn Barnett

    I had an iridotomy in right eye at 12:00 one month ago today. I have three side affects:

    white line thru vision
    light sensitivity
    blurred vision

    My doctor said eye looks fine. He dilated it. It is inflamed from surgery. He said he never heard of white line. However, its all on the internet and lots of people have this issue. I got new doctor who says it is common. He is a glaucoma specialist.

    My vision was fine before. Now its compromised. I’m upset and what can I do to fix it?

    Regarding the other eye. I was supposed to have it done but cancelled. Why would I want both eyes compromised?

    High pressure causes angle closure, yes? What causes a high pressure event that would cause this?

  • karyn

    The horizontal line across my vision after this surgery? Will it go away or is this a life sentence?

  • karyn

    I had iridotomy in right eye 5 days ago. Like others wrote I’ve been in pain since surgery. Eye throbs, feels sore, outside light makes we close eye. I have a white line across my vision too. What is this caused by. I have dark brown eyes. I ‘m scared to have the other eye done now. Went to doc yesterday for him to see eye and he didn’t think white line was from surgery but said after the other eye is done we will dialate eye to see the problem. Thoughts?

  • Deanna

    I had an iridotomy in both eyes last month I have irrtation at the base of my corneas, and get headaches and my eyes burn everyday since then. I was given eye drops to relieve the pain, but that didn’t help. I was never told about the side effects of the laser surgery, and I’m very disappointed with the continuous pain in both eyes.

  • Heather Paul

    Two weeks ago I had an iridotomy in my right eye and last week I had an iridotomy in my left eye, the reason I had this Done was because I had a lot of pressure on the eyes cause by glaucoma but before I went to the eye doctor probably two or three weeks before I had been seen in the emergency room because my eye hurt and I had a terrible headache and pain in my eye, since I’ve had the surgery I haven’t really had any problems it’s been almost a week since my second surgery but today I’m starting to get that same awful pain in my eye again and my head and I can barely stand washing my hair when I wash my hair or scrub my scalp or touch my face I feel like I’m being electrocuted and the enamel is being stripped off of my teeth mostly my front teeth is where I’m having a problem I feel like something is still wrong can you give me any advice on that please?

  • Jean Plante

    Had iridectomy for very very narrow angles (slit degree) in both eyes – one eye is also lazy eye. Very dark irises. Had to use both argon and yag to get through the pigment. Moderate pain for 3 hrs after right eye and more pain for about 6 hours for left – had difficulty piercing it so more zaps. Done by glaucoma specialist at my eye center. Next day perfectly fine both times, as if nothing was done. No halos, lines or double vision. No change in level of vision compared with last prescription 4 years earlier. No more sensitive to light compared with usual. Holes done as others have said in the 9/3 position – surgeon said he NEVER does 12 position and has has not had a fail in thousands. It’s a sight saving procedure – if you are on vacation and have closed angle attack and are not near qualified eye surgeons you could lose sight. Glad I did it – glaucoma specialist felt it was imperative and everything I read backed up that opinion.

  • Ianne O.

    I was diagnosed with very narrow angles by three different doctors. I sought out the best possible Dr. At the Kellogg Eye Clinic at The University of Michigan. I received two iridotomies a month apart. The surgeries were done in 1994 (21 years ago). My surgeries were very successful. I really do believe that you need to find the best doctor in your state to do your surgery. The first surgery was done at 12:00 on the retina. At first some light was bothering me in that eye. I told the Dr. About this. I asked him to aim for 1:00 on the retina for the second eye and that was even better. in any case both eyes are fine with no problems. The risk of not getting the surgery certainly outweighs any problems incurred. narrow angle glaucoma is a very dangerous condition.

  • Yvonne

    Hi Pat…I to just had iridotomy performed on both eyes, on May 28, 2015. This is so strange, because I had mine done too, at CEI in Blue Ash, Ohio as well. Dr. ArAr performed my surgery. I had blurred vision and was slightly sensitive to the sun. This lasted about two hours. I felt fine after that. But….on May 29th, I start seeing the white lines. Today is May 31, 2015. I still see them. I am praying that they go away. I go back to see Dr. ArAr….tomorrow, June 1, 2015. Can’t wait to see what he has too say. I was very nervous about the surgery….Even more nervous now. Everyone swears that CEI…in Blue Ash, Ohio is the best place to go. I hope the white lines are not going to be there forever. Everyone, please take care.

  • Jean Plante

    I had iridotomy performed due to extremely narrow angles – nearly closed. In the “Slit” category. Pressure in the worse eye has been around 24 for a long time. It was an unfortunate situation particularly because I have a lazy eye, so am really only working with one good eye – and that was the eye with the high pressure. So a tough choice for me. Done yesterday by a glaucoma specialist in the ophthalmology practice I go to. The zaps hurt somewhat because it took what seemed like forever – my eyes are very dark and it took a lot of zaps, and 2 different lasers, to get through them, and hurt for 4 hours afterward – irritation, soreness, unbearable glare on the computer screen, blurry vision mainly due to the gunk they put in. He said that was due to the amount of pigment that got released, everything floating around, the light from the laser, and lots of other things. No floaters, lines, double images, halos, headaches. 5 hours post-procedure, vast improvement – pain went away, vision cleared up 95%. This morning, it is as if nothing has been done to my eye. And I feel everything and am picky. Hole was placed around 8:30 re position on the iris – as discussed elsewhere on this board, this guards against the line that you can get when it’s too near the lid like the 12:00 position. My doctor has performed thousands of these procedures and told me he has never had an issue and always does it that way, as it has been shown to have the best result. I think that those who had negative experiences post more – they are trying to help and share information about the downside, which is understandable – but fact is that the vast, vast majority of people having this procedure are trouble-free and dodge a serious bullet. If you are in a remote location and have an acute attack, you can lose your vision in a matter of 2 hours. There will be simply nothing they will be able to do to help you. When assessing the experiences of others, you do not know what their particular eye anatomy or situation is, you do not know the experience, volume of procedures performed, and skill of their surgeon, you do not know the condition, type or age of the laser used – just lots of unknowns. Do your homework, get someone who does thousands and ask a lot of questions. Then make the most logical choice for you.

  • I have just had a trabeculectomy in my right eye. I have lost about 40% of my peripheral vision in the last 6 years. I have been diagnosed I thought with Chronic open angle Glaucoma and exhausted the drops and SLT or ALT (not sure which) so a trabulectomy was offered and accepted.
    I noticed when I went for my follow up post op, that I had a small triangle shaped black mark on my iris at 12 o’clock. I also had a white line/glare across the lower eye vision.
    The doctor (consultant wasn’t available) didn’t know what the white line was but did say I had had an iridectomy or iridotomy (again not sure which).
    Can you tell me why I would have this at the same time as my trabeculectomy and for open angle Glaucoma to lower pressure. Generally this seems to be for closed or narrow angle Glaucoma.
    My IOP has been around 15 to 18 for the last few years and my consultant said it would be better to be around 10 to 12 to try to prevent further visual field loss.
    Thank you in anticipation of your help, Regards Stefan

  • Ginny

    I recently had laser iridotomies on my eyes. My right eye was done first. The procedure itself was uneventful, but I now have a horizontal line of light across that eye. The brighter the light around me, the more noticeable it is. It’s really, really distracting, but when considering the alternative – blindness – I guess I’ll take the line of light.

    When I went for the procedure on my left eye, I told the surgeon about the line of light and she said it was because my eyelids are high (I think another way to say this is that she didn’t put the hole high enough to avoid that outcome). I wasn’t particularly happy with her response because it seems as if she should have realized that before the procedure. After-all, my eyelids didn’t change position from the time she saw me in the office until the procedure was done at the eye facility. Anyway, she assured me she’d put the hole higher in my left eye. She must have because I don’t have the same result in that eye.

    I had slight headaches after both procedures, but no other pain. My vision in both eyes is fine…absolutely no change in that post-op.

  • arl bass

    had the lazer iridtomy procedure. It was simple, quick and painless. I read so much material beforehand and was temped to cancel it and HAPPY I DID NOT! i find that people that have had no issues and there should not be, do not take the time to write to calm others.
    only thing i would recommend is to take a Tylenol before the procedure as some of the eye drops will cause a bad headache.
    GET it done! went back to the doctor that did the procedure at a 3 o’clock position on my iris… no issues at all! he did say it was medically necessary and Dr. Prince in NYC was excellent. At the after exam three weeks later he said both of my eyes are now the same. The procedure actually changes the narrow angel to normal!
    the procedure was a blessing.

  • Darlee

    I saw the same glaucoma dr for 24 years. Pressures have always been acceptable at 15 and 17. I take two medications. He retired. They sent me to a glaucoma specialist in the same facility. She immediatley stated that she wanted to do an iridotomy. She only saw me for like 10 minutes and because she said she could not dialate my eyes, she wanted to do the surgery. Is that the only reason? My dr told me all those years that I have open angle glaucoma. And now she says there is narrowing but I saw him only three months earlier. When I asked her if I could put the surgery off a week and come in and talk to her again, about possible other options etc. She had her nurse call me as if she did not want to be bothered. So I have made an appointment with another dr to get a second opinion. But I have been to so many sights and 97 percent of the comments on the iridotomy are negative.

  • Ms Wirshup

    I had this procedure done yesterday morning, both an iridotomy and and iridectomy. They were done at 3 and 9. It was not painful, and today other than a slight headache I am fine with no side effects.

  • Katie

    Hello again, I left out on my previous two posts above that I have had a second opinion and that opthalmologist (from the eye research institute in my town, “cutting edge” doctors iow) advised I get the iridotomies because my “pressures are too high”…..that was his reason, which I understand is never a reason for iridotomy…..only as a preventative for a possible future closed angle glaucoma attack. Anyway, at this point I am so torn I don’t really know what to do, with confidence, that is. I am praying for God to show me the way, and I pray for all of you whose stories I have read that God will heal you and take away your pain. God Bless, and thanks again for reading. Katie

  • Katie

    …….Also, I forgot to say in my initial post above that I do have brown eyes, not the darkest brown, but medium brown…..which I realize usually take multiple “zaps” by the laser to accomplish the hole…..which does not sound like it can be a positive thing as far as corneas are concerned. I just wanted to add that to my concerns as to having an iridotomy. Again, any experiences (positive or negative) of anyone similar to mine I would greatly appreciate them sharing.

  • Katie

    I am scheduled for an iridotomy a week from today. I have not seen my exact situation in any of the posts on this or any other similar site, and am very anxious about the laser due to the fact that I have corneal edema (severe — use ophthalmic ointment nightly, and reapply at least once through the night as directions say to do) & the swelling from the edema in both eyes takes several hours each AM to subside enough to open my eyes and be functional. My ophtalmologist diagnosed narrow angle glaucoma in 2010 and it has been a watch and wait thing since (as to when to do the advised (“eventually”) iridotomies. The corneal edema began that same year after a severe corneal abrasion in one eye and then in the other a few months apart. That is most of my concern about having the iridotomies, that I will have my corneas damaged further than they already are. I’ve been told that the laser will not hit anything but the iris’ target area for the iridotomy hole. I am having problems visualizing how this can be done with the cornea covering the iris. I do not want to take a chance on a closed angle glaucoma attack, of course, but I am severely torn trying to justify permanently ruining my already unhealthy corneas (or worsening their condition to the point of constant severe pain with no way to relieve it) to do a procedure for a situation that may or may not occur and no way to predict either way. I guess what I am saying is that, I am able to manage my condition now (even though the corneal edema robs me of 4 hours of every morning which I gladly go through to have the rest of the day relatively normal/abrasion free… and “only” having to use my Restasis am and pm and moisturizing drops every few hours) and am afraid I will trade a “might/could happen” situation (narrow angles close/attack/possible blindness) for a manageable (with maximum patience) condition that will be with me always but I am in control of (whether I get another abrasion) for the most part, by faithfully using my eye ointment nightly. I am basically wondering if the lasering is worth it and if my particular corneal condition going into it, will make a difference, or has been shown to make one, in the outcome/success of an iridotomy. Again, I am scheduled to have my rt. eye done a week from today (at 2 pm to be sure my edema is over for the day) and the lft. eye done in mid-January. I am on the verge of cancelling my lasering for next week because of the above posts (and many many others on similar sites) by people who don’t even have this corneal situation going in and have had dreadful outcomes even with HEALTHY corneas prior to their iridotomies. Thanks for reading this and any experiences like mine (good or bad outcomes) I will appreciate anyone sharing.