Lasers in Medicine
I love high-tech gadgets and gizmos almost as much as I love health and fitness. Maybe that’s why I love to write about the high-tech aspects of modern health care–it combines two of my favorite topics! Now I know I’ve discussed lasers in medicine and health care before, many times before in fact, but could you indulge me just one more time, please? And for those of you new readers out there, I can almost assure you that this won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing from me on this topic!
I guess I find medical lasers so fascinating because they seem so paradoxical. Lasers are more thought of, at least by me, as super weapons, capable of vast amounts of destruction and damage. So how could they be useful in the delicate, intricate field of medicine? Are medical lasers somehow less powerful, smaller, less capable than “other” lasers? Or is it just that technology has made lasers safer and more delicate, better suited to brain surgery, pain relief, and eye treatments than a James Bond villain’s world-ending prototype? Actually, the answer lies in a bit of both.
Most medical lasers are low-level lasers. They truly aren’t as powerful, as scary, or as dangerous to humankind as the ones the bad guys build in the movies and comic strips. You can’t utilize laser therapy for pain with a laser of the same intensity as one capable of blasting space ships out of the sky, now can you? Low-level laser means just that–the light rays it emits are on less intense levels of the light spectrum–than other high-powered lasers. That doesn’t mean that they can’t do their jobs. On the contrary, low-level lasers are perfect for treating joint pain, for removing cataracts, for stopping the growth of brain tumors, and for making almost bloodless incisions that leave minimal scars. Cosmetologists use lasers to reshape and redefine the body. Ophthalmologists use them to save the sight of patients blinded by diabetes and other diseases. Doctors have developed laser scanning equipment, too, to capture images of the inside of the body, effectively doing away with the need for as many biopsies. Medical researchers are constantly loking for ways to integrate even more lasers into health care.
So, these low-level lasers are making a big name for themselves in medicine, and more so every day. Medical lasers may not be capable of blowing up the world, but they have a power uniquely their own, in their delicate, low-powered way!