Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is an advanced type of laser treatment to manage patients with open angle glaucoma. Instead of burning tissue as in ALT, SLT selectively stimulates or changes only specific pigmented cells to activate increased fluid drainage. Both SLT and ALT produce equivalent drops in IOP, however the more gentle SLT procedure does not have the associated damage to other tissues and adverse scarring effects. For this reason, where ALT is limited to one or two treatments, SLT may potentially be repeated more often. SLT has also been found to be effective when ALT and other forms of medical treatment have failed.
How is SLT Performed?
SLT is usually performed in the office and only takes about 15-20 minutes. Prior to the procedure, eye drops will be given to prepare the eye for treatment. The laser applications are made through a special microscope, similar to the one used for eye examinations. About two hours of office time should be planned so the IOP can be checked after the eye is treated.
What should be expected after SLT Treatment?
Generally no special post-operative medications are needed and there are no restrictions on activities after treatment (i.e. bending, stooping, lifting or eye rubbing). Most patients will continue any glaucoma medications that they were taking before the laser. The doctor may treat the eye with anti-inflammatory eye drops that will be continued for 4-7 days after the procedure. Most patients will have to return for follow up visits to re-check the treated eye. It often takes 4-6 weeks for the pressure to be lowered. Over-the-counter pain medications are fine to use for any discomfort.
Unlike some glaucoma medications, there are no incidences of allergy or systemic side effects with SLT. Complications are minimal but may include inflammation, temporary increase in IOP, conjuctivitis, or eye pain. For more information about SLT and how it may benefit you, please ask the doctor.
Benefits of SLT
- SLT results in a biological response that increases aqueous drainage, and reduces intraocular pressure without burning tissue.
- No adverse reactions from medications.
- No adverse scarring of trabecular meshwork.
- May reduce the need for lifelong use of expensive eye drops and other medications.
- May reduce or eliminate the trouble of always having to take glaucoma medications.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent but can usually be prevented with early detection and treatment. Glaucoma management is usually a lifelong process that requires frequent monitoring and constant treatment. Since there is no way to determine if glaucoma is under control based on how a person feels, a person with glaucoma generally should be examined every 3-6 months.
If you have experienced a loss of peripheral vision or are having other difficulties with your vision, you should have a complete eye examination.