Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a type of laser surgery used to lower intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma by opening up the drainage system in the eye. SLT is used when pressure-lowering drops are not working well enough or if the drops are causing unfavorable side effects. SLT is also an option for patients who have a difficult time taking their drops every day.
HOW DOES SLT WORK?
Laser light energy is used to create a larger opening in the trabecular meshwork (an area of the drainage system) and stimulate the flow of aqueous fluid through the drainage angle. By increasing the outflow of fluid through the trabecular meshwork, the intraocular pressure can be lowered. Lowering eye pressure is the only proven way to treat glaucoma and SLT has been shown to be an effective method more than 75% of the time. It is called “selective” because it is only taken up by certain tissue in the eye. Due to the minimal heat energy absorption with this laser, it is sometimes considered a “cold” laser. The minimal absorption is responsible for producing less scar tissue.
WHAT TO EXPECT THE DAY OF THE PROCEDURE
SLT is performed right here in our office and takes no more than 10 minutes. SLT involves a few simple steps:
- Anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye and pressure lowering drops are used to prevent a spike in eye pressure during or after the procedure
- The patient is seated at the slit lamp microscope where the laser is attached.
- The surgeon focuses the laser and performs the treatment. The patient may see flashes from the laser light and hear a click when the laser is applied. No pain or discomfort should be experienced.
- Immediately following the procedure, eye pressure is monitored in the office. If the pressure is stable and within a normal range, the patient is free to go home and resume normal activities.
- Anti-inflammatory medications are usually prescribed for use several days after the procedure.
- Vision may be blurry immediately following SLT, but should clear within a few hours.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT SLT
- SLT is not a cure for glaucoma, but it can help keep the pressure in the eye under control and prevent further damage from glaucoma.
- The pressure-lowering effects of SLT can wear off over time and the procedure may need to be repeated.
- You may still need to use pressure lowering drops after the procedure if the eye pressure is not adequately controlled from the laser alone.
- It is extremely important to continue seeing your doctor following SLT so that eye pressure can be monitored.
- SLT is FDA approved and is covered by Medicare and medical insurance.