Reducing Intraocular Pressure with Laser Energy

One of the most significant concerns that individuals with glaucoma face are a substantial increase in intraocular pressure. This is the very characteristic of this eye disease. There is currently no cure for glaucoma, only tools that help patients manage the pressure placed on their optic nerve and, thus, preserve their vision. Recent developments in laser technology are providing patients with yet another tool.

Laser treatment for glaucoma may involve Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). The technique has been around for more than 15 years, yet many patients are not aware of the details.

Are you a good candidate?

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty shows promising results in cases of open-angle glaucoma, in which the drainage canals at the front of the eye are slow to clog. Open-angle glaucoma is one of the most common types of this disease, and also one of the most concerning due to the lack of symptoms.

How SLT works

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty focuses on prompting a biological and chemical change in the drainage tissue in the eye. Over 1 to 3 months’ time after the procedure, draining occurs more efficiently, which leads to a reduction in intra ocular pressure. The term “selective” refers to the minimal energy that is absorbed by ocular tissues. The gentleness of the low-energy laser translates into a comfortable procedure and minimal scarring.

SLT is sometimes used as a primary therapy for glaucoma, and sometimes it is performed after non-surgical modalities such as eyedrops have failed to achieve the desired result. When used as a primary treatment, this laser treatment has been shown to achieve approximately 30% reduction in intra ocular pressure. Research also indicates that patients who are already on glaucoma medication may not achieve that extent of relief.

Important Details you Need to Know

Patients undergo SLT for one primary reason: this treatment may achieve long-lasting effects. The range is quite large, from 1 to 5 years. Anything less than 12 months is not considered successful. The laser procedure may be repeated, but studies indicate a lower rate of effectiveness for follow-up treatments. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty should not be considered an alternative to medication. Every case is unique. Where some patients may attain an optimal reduction in pressure from SLT, others will continue to need one or more adjunct therapies to manage intra ocular pressure.

Glaucoma treatments have come a long way. Explore your options for managing your eye health with us. Call our Kihei or Wailuku office for a convenient appointment.


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