Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, or SLT, a form of laser surgery that is used to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) in glaucoma, is being offered by The Medical City as an alternative to eye drop medication or conventional surgical treatment.
Glaucoma is a degenerative condition of the eye that usually affects older patients, and is characterized by a build-up of pressure of the fluid inside the eyeball. If untreated, it can cause optic nerve damage and possibly lead to blindness.
SLT is used when eye drop medications are not lowering the eye pressure enough or are causing significant side effects. Because it is painless and has almost no lasting side effects, SLT may sometimes be used as initial treatment for glaucoma.
According to a patient guide provided by The Medical City, SLT involves the application of laser energy to the drainage tissue in the eye. This starts a chemical and biological change in the tissue that results in better drainage of fluid through the drain and out of the eye. This eventually results in lowering of IOP. It may take one to three months for the results to appear.
A laser beam passing through a special microscope called a slit lamp and lens is used to make small burns in the passages, called the trabecular meshwork, where fluid drains from the eye. After the procedure, which takes 15 to 20 minutes, eye drops are applied to prevent fluid pressure from rising and ease any irritation from the laser.
The Medical Center said the procedure is painless, but the patient may feel some pressure in the eye during the surgery, and discomfort from the protective contact lens placed on the eye while the laser is being used.
Benefits of SLT
The Medical City explained, “Laser trabeculoplasty may be helpful in treating people whose glaucoma continues to get worse in spite of medication and treatment. It may also be helpful in treating older adults who have glaucoma and are not able to use medicines to treat it.” The procedure is often used as a first treatment before other more complicated surgical procedures are tried.
The other benefits of SLT are that it is a relatively simple procedure, and has only mild side effects, the most common being some inflammation that can be easily treated with eye drops or oral medication.
SLT is not considered a permanent treatment, but its effects, if it is successful the first time, generally last from one to five years, and occasionally longer. It can be repeated, but is usually not as successful in subsequent treatments. The Medical City explained that if the effect from the SLT treatment does not last at least 6 to 12 months, it is considered unsuccessful, and will likely not be tried again.