Treating Glaucoma with Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Glaucoma is a complex eye disease that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. It occurs when the pressure inside the eye rises to a dangerous level. In the past, the first line of defense against glaucoma was to use special eyedrops to lower intraocular pressure. Nowadays, ophthalmologists like Dr. Gregory Johnson at Intracoastal Eye use a laser procedure called selective laser trabeculoplasty, or SLT, instead of eyedrops or when eyedrops fail to work. It can also be a very convenient and useful alternative when eyedrops are causing significant side effects. SLT is very safe and effective and can be performed in the office.
Read on as Dr. Johnson explains how SLT works and what it entails.
How SLT Works
In a normal, healthy eye, fluid is constantly produced in the front of the eye and leaves the eye through a tiny drain called the trabecular meshwork, located in an area called the drainage angle where the cornea and iris meet. But in cases of glaucoma, the fluid is unable to drain out of the eye through the trabecular meshwork and, as a result, the pressure inside the eye spikes.
There are a few types of glaucoma, each of which differs from the other types based on the degree to which the drainage angle is clogged. For example, in cases of open-angle glaucoma, the drainage angle becomes clogged like a kitchen or shower drain, and fluid drains very slowly out through it. On the other hand, in cases of angle-closure glaucoma, the drainage angle is totally blocked by a part of the iris and intraocular pressure can rise very high. The open angle form of glaucoma is much more common than the closed angle variety.
SLT is designed for cases of open-angle glaucoma. Laser energy is applied to the drainage tissue in the eye to create a biochemical change that improves the outflow of fluid. The focused energy of the laser stretches the drainage holes in the trabecular meshwork, allowing fluid to drain more efficiently. Eventually, the intraocular pressure lowers as a result. The Glaucoma Research Foundation reports that SLT can lower eye pressure by 20 to 30 percent.
SLT can be used to replace glaucoma eyedrops or in addition to eyedrops, depending on the case. The results of treatment can wear off after time but repeat treatment can keep glaucoma under control long-term, in many cases without the burden of eyedrops.
For more information about selective laser trabeculoplasty, please contact Dr. Johnson at Intracoastal Eye. Call 910-777-8254 or email us at your convenience.