Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty
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Overview

Glaucoma is a disease that is characterized by high intraocular pressure inside the eye that slowly paves the way for progressive optic nerve damage ultimately resulting in visual impairment. Most of the treatment measures initiated are aimed at lowering the intraocular pressure which can affect the optic nerve that transmits electrical impulses from the retina to the brain. A glaucoma treatment starts with administering medicated drops to control eye pressure. However, if eye drops do not bring about any significant reduction in the eye pressure, your eye specialist may prescribe oral pills in addition to the medicated drops. If these two do not improve your symptoms then a laser surgery may be recommended. Laser surgery is fast becoming a popular option for glaucoma treatment and involves the use of an intense light beam to relieve intraocular pressure by removing part of eye's trabecular meshwork.

The Procedure

Anesthetic eye drops are administered and a special lens is placed in front of your eyes for better viewing. A high intensity laser beam is aimed directly at the blocked trabecular meshwork through the mirrored contact lens. You may feel a green flash of light. This initiates a chemical and biological change in the tissue that allows for better drainage of fluid through the drain and out of the eye, ultimately reducing the intraocular pressure. The Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty is a fairly new technique that targets the ‘specific cells’ in the drainage angle leaving untreated portions of the trabecular meshwork intact. In short, SLT works by using laser light to stimulate the body’s own healing response to help lower the eye pressure.

The Symptoms

The following may be the indications of a potentially serious problem - Glaucoma that might warrant a medical emergency, like a Selective laser trabeculoplasty

  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Sudden hazy or blurry vision
  • Flashes of light or black spots
  • Halos or rainbows around light

The Eligibility

You are eligible for Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty if you have open-angle glaucoma and you are in need of lowering the intraocular pressure. This procedure is also best suited for patients who are unwilling or unable to use glaucoma eye drops.

The Risks Involved

The risks and complications are minimal but may include mild post-operative inflammation, infection, temporary increase in eye pressure, blurry vision, headache, corneal edema, corneal abrasion, eye pain, conjunctivitis, adhesion of iris to the cornea or inflammation of the iris. There is also a 5% incidence of elevation of intraocular pressure after the laser procedure, which can be managed with glaucoma medications and usually subsides after 24 hours.

The Impact

This laser procedure is effective at lowering intraocular pressure for one to five years, after which it wears off. However, the procedure can be safely repeated. This is because SLT is “selective,” and the laser energy is absorbed only by those targeted tissue cells, thus preserving and protecting the surrounding tissues.

Glaucoma is a debilitating disease as it can cause irrecoverable damage to the optic nerve and cause permanent loss of eyesight. Incorporating a healthy diet plan, regular exercise and limiting caffeine can help normalize the intraocular pressure. In addition to these, regular eye examinations are the best form of prevention against significant glaucoma damage. Prudence takes precedence – never ignore glaucoma symptoms! Opt for a glaucoma laser surgery and protect your vision!