To appreciate the profound influence laser surgery has had on ocular therapy, one need only consult the Airlie House Symposium on the Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy.1 Published a mere 26 years ago, fully one third of these proceedings were devoted to the treatment of retinal proliferative disease by pituitary ablation. In addition to supplanting traditional cutting procedures, such as hypophysectomy, iridotomy, and posterior capsulotomy, laser photocoagulation provides an alternative with lower morbidity than cryopexy for treating retinopathy of prematurity, retinal tears, and glaucoma. It has even opened new therapeutic possibilities for previously untreatable conditions that include choroidal neovascularization, macular edema, and venous occlusive disease. As if all of this were not sufficiently impressive, the Diabetic Retinopathy Study, being the first major prospective multicenter clinical trial of photocoagulation, now serves as a model for clinical outcomes trials not only in ophthalmology but throughout medicine.
Laser Surgery in Ophthalmology concisely reviews