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Cryotherapy is the application of freezing treatment to the retina through the outer eye wall. The eye is fully anesthetized, and a hand-held probe is placed on the white part of the eyeball and pressed against the eye by the doctor. At the same time, the doctor looks into the eye. When the probe is activated, the tip becomes very cold, freezing the retina in that location. Cryotherapy can be performed in the office or in the operating room. It is used to intentionally create a small scar in the peripheral retina for the treatment of conditions such as retinal tears, retinal detachments, small retinal tumors or blood vessel abnormalities. Cryotherapy is sometimes done as a separate procedure and sometimes in combination with other treatments like pneumatic retinopexy or scleral buckle.
Before your procedure, the doctor will perform a dilated retina examination. Then, you will be seated comfortably in the procedure room and the doctor will administer anesthetic eyedrops followed by a small numbing injection to fully anesthetize your eye. A small retractor is placed between the eyelids to help you avoid blinking during the procedure. You will be reclining in the chair as the doctor performs the freezing treatment while looking into your eye with a head-lamp; much like a dilated retina examination is done. After the treatment is finished, lubricating ointment will be placed in your eye, and a patch will be placed over it. The procedure is painless and takes about 15 to 20 minutes. . If you experience a slight headache after your procedure, that can be normal and you may take Tylenol for it.
Your doctor will discuss all of the above with you and review additional information and precautions before and after your treatment. Our goal is to have all of your questions answered, so please feel free to ask our doctors and staff about any questions or concerns you may have.