Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a laser treatment for elevated eye pressure and glaucoma. It is used to reduce eye pressure either instead of, or in addition to, eye drop treatment.
What is Glaucoma?
A clear fluid called aqueous humor circulates inside the front portion of the eye to provide nourishment. This fluid is constantly produced, and in an eye with normal pressure, an equal amount flows out through a microscopic drainage system. In an eye with glaucoma, more fluid is produced than flows out. Pressure builds up in the eye, which damages the optic nerve.
How is Glaucoma Treated?
The damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, but reducing eye pressure can help prevent further damage.
The usual treatment to reduce eye pressure is daily use of eye drops for the rest of the patient's life. While eye drops work perfectly well for most people, there are many who dislike or have difficulty taking them, who experience side effects, or who forget to take them. For some people, eye drops alone do not lower eye pressure enough to prevent damage.
Laser treatment has been used to reduce eye pressure since the late 1970's. SLT has become a popular treatment because it is effective in lowering eye pressure more than 75% of the time, and because almost all patients are suitable for treatment.
How Does SLT Work?
A laser is a fine light which can be aimed and focused very precisely. SLT treatment focuses light energy to the drainage system of the eye, called the trabecular meshwork. The SLT uses a low amount of energy, so it does not damage the surrounding tissue. The treatment improves the function of the cells in the drainage system, allowing the drain to work more efficiently and lower eye pressure.
How is SLT Performed?
The SLT Treatment is performed in our office as an outpatient procedure, and usually takes less than 10 minutes.
Your eye will be numbed with an anesthetic drop. Your doctor will place a special contact lens on your eye to focus the laser. You will experience a flash of light with each laser application. There is rarely discomfort with the SLT procedure, but you may feel a slight sting.
What are the Risks of SLT?
Like any surgery, there are risks with SLT. Side effects are uncommon and generally mild, including:
- not lowering eye pressure enough
- increased eye pressure, requiring medication or surgery
- red, swollen, or painful eye
- blurred vision