SLT, or Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, is a glaucoma procedure that has been FDA approved in the United States for over 10 years. SLT can eliminate or reduce the need for glaucoma eye drops.
Glaucoma is a dying off of the nerve layer in the back of the eye and is often associated with high eye pressure. When the nerve layer is damaged, the result is a loss of peripheral vision. Once vision is lost with glaucoma it can not be restored.
Types- Open Vs. Closed Angle
The “angle” of the eye is the place where fluid produced in the eye drains. Glaucoma can be either “open angle” or “closed angle”. Open angle glaucoma is by far the most common type, and means that the angle of the eye is open. This type of glaucoma should be treated urgently to avoid vision loss, but is not an emergency. Closed angle glaucoma means that the angle is closed. This results in very high eye pressure and damage to the nerve of the eye over a short period of time. This type of glaucoma is an emergency and often is accompanied with symptoms of headache, eye pain, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. Closed angle glaucoma is treated with a laser procedure called a peripheral iridotomy. All doctors at OEI are trained and experienced with this procedure.
Open angle glaucoma generally has no symptoms until the disease is in advanced stages. With advanced glaucoma patients develop tunnel vision, where their peripheral field of vision decreases. Glaucoma can eventually cause blindness if left untreated.
Risk Factors & Treatment
Heredity is a risk factor for glaucoma. Also, you may be at greater risk if you are over 45, of African descent, near-sighted, diabetic, or smoke. Finally, if you have suffered an eye injury in the past, you may have a greater chance of developing glaucoma. Glaucoma treatment centers around reducing eye pressure. The target pressure is different for each individual eye, and depends on the baseline eye pressure and severity of glaucoma.
SLT is a relatively painless laser procedure that helps to lower the eye pressure. In many cases, the laser can lower eye pressure as much as 30%, but depends on if the patient is currently using eye pressure drops. The procedure takes just a few minutes and is done in-office. There are no restrictions after SLT. A slight headache may occur afterward, which can be treated with over-the-counter pain relief medication. There is no systemic risk, and the primary risk to the eye is mild inflammation and elevated eye pressure. The patient is monitored for these side effects after the procedure.
The SLT is covered by most insurances and can save a patient money over time, since it can eliminate or reduce the need for eye drops.
OEI uses the Lumenis SLT, the industry standard laser for this revolutionary procedure. You can find more out about the laser at the Lumenis website.