In addition to eye drops, another way to lower eye pressure is with laser therapy. A common laser treatment for glaucoma is called selective laser trabeculoplasty, or SLT. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a widely accepted and well established treatment option in glaucoma management. SLT may also help reduce the amount of eye drops a patient is using, avoid needing additional drops, and may prevent or delay the need for incisional glaucoma surgery. The laser treatment is applied to the drain of your eye in order to open it up and help fluid drain out, thus lowering the eye pressure to help prevent glaucoma progression and vision loss. The procedure is done with topical numbing eye drops only, a small lens, and is generally pain free. SLT treatment takes only a few minutes, is performed in the office (not the operating room), is safe, and effectively lowers eye pressure in the majority of patients. The treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating glaucoma and is covered by essentially all insurance plans. After the procedure anti-inflammatory drops are usually used for a few days.
What does the procedure do?
SLT works by targeting cells in the trabecular meshwork system or drain of the eye to induce a biochemical change resulting in increased fluid outflow, which lowers (IOP) intraocular pressure.
Are you a candidate for SLT?
People who might benefit from SLT are described below. If any of these descriptions apply to you, ask your doctor if SLT may benefit you.
- Eye pressure is not controlled despite using one or more eye drop medications—If you have tried several medications and your eye pressure is still not under control, SLT may be the next step.
- Inability to tolerate eye drop medications—Some patients have allergies to drops or health reasons preventing them from using a particular drop or drops.
- Inability to put eye drop medications in your eyes—If you have arthritis, a tremor, or very poor vision, you might not be able to put the drops in your eye.
- Frequently forgetting to use your eye drop medications— This results in fluctuating eye pressure which can cause worsening glaucoma and vision loss. SLT may be a good option here.
- Inability to afford your eye drop medications—Many people have insurance that will cover SLT but will not cover medications. If you cannot afford your medications, SLT might be a more cost-effective way to control your glaucoma.
- Desire to reduce the number of eye drop medications you are using—If your eye pressure is controlled but you require several eye drop medications to keep it controlled, SLT might allow you to reduce the number of medications you are using for eye pressure. It may also help you avoid adding an additional drop.
- Desire to avoid starting eye drop medication therapy—If you have just been diagnosed with glaucoma, you may prefer to avoid eye drop medications entirely. SLT may help you accomplish this.