Monday, March 30, 2009

What Is SLT And Am I A Candidate For Glaucoma Laser Surgery?

SLT or Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty is a laser procedure that can help control intraocular pressures of patients with open angle glaucoma. This laser procedure can be used as the first treatment in those diagnosed with glaucoma. It can be used in patients presently on medication whose pressures are inadequately controlled by medications.
Patients, who are on multiple medications for glaucoma with good control, can have this procedure performed by their ophthalmologist. These patients may benefit by being able to reduce the number of medications they use in order to control their glaucoma.

SLT works by increasing the number of areas that can drain fluid from the eye. By doing so, the intraocular pressure is decreased. Usually the ophthalmologist will treat a 90 degree area at a time. This is an office procedure which takes only a few minutes with minimal if any discomfort. Patients are able to drive home safely after the procedure. The treating physician will recheck the patient in 2 to 4 weeks and know if there is a decrease at this time. In order to get better control, often the ophthalmologist will treat each eye up to four times. Other than mild discomfort in brightly lit areas for the next few days after treatment, the patients don't usually experience any other side effects.

Five year studies have shown that the effects of SLT can last at least five years. Some patients do not get as much benefit as others from this treatment. However, in general, this new laser has really changed how we can help our patients with open angle glaucoma attain better intraocular pressures.

The diagram above shows the area of the eye that is responsible for producing the fluid that circulates to the front of the eye, the ciliary body. If you look carefully, you will see an area labeled trabecular meshwork. That is the area that is treated with a laser to make more openings in order to bring the intraoculare pressure down by providing more areas of fluid outflow.

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