The barrage laser is an Argon Laser treatment done to strengthen the part of the retina which may show weak areas. After this laser treatment, in about a week’s time, it is usually safe to undergo LASIK.
The need for barrage laser is found out during the LASIK evaluation. One of the tests done before LASIK to determine if LASIK is suitable for you is the retinal examination. This is always done under dilation of the eyes (pupils). The examining eye surgeon will need to make sure that your retinal is healthy and has no weak areas before you consider undergoing a LASIK or laser eye surgery.
Even in routine eye checkups where the eyes are dilated, the aim is to look for a healthy retina. Any areas which are suspect of weakness need to be strengthened to avoid a more serious issue in the eye, that of a retinal detachment.
If there is any sign of a weak area or degeneration (lattice) or retinal holes in the retina, then this weak area could worsen after LASIK, hence one may need to strengthen it using the Argon laser.
The usual cause of the weak retina is in those with high Myopia or minus spectacle powers. Higher the minus power or myopia, the thinner is the retina that coats the inner layer of the eyeball. The thinner the retina, the weaker it may be, resulting in Lattice Degeneration or retinal holes.
There are some specific tests to be done before an Argon laser in other diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or hypertensive retinopathy, which is usually a Fundus Fluorescein Angiography. This test is not needed for conditions such as retinal holes or lattice degeneration.
OCT test may also be necessary to diagnose some other specific retinal diseases. If the LASIK surgeon sees any retinal issue which seems complicated, he will recommend seeing a retinal surgeon.
However, please remember, the nature of the retina cannot be changed. Only you need to be more vigilant and regular with your ophthalmic examinations to be able to benefit from preventive management of retinal emergencies.