The use of lasers in the management of glaucoma has become more frequent than ever. In past years, the use of lasers for lowering had been reserved for late in the course of the disease. Over the past 5 years, however, the development of a new laser treatment known as “Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty” or SLT has allowed the lasers to be used earlier in the disease cycle.
SLT is an office based laser which can be performed as an outpatient procedure. The treatment is painless, and generally takes only a few minutes to complete. The patient has one eye treated at a time, and can resume routine activities on the following day. SLT does not replace the use of eyedrops in the management of glaucoma, but rather can be used as an adjunct or supplement to medications. Perhaps the most exciting upside of SLT is that it can be used repeatedly over the patient’s lifetime.
Unlike previous laser treatments for glaucoma which could only be performed twice in a patient’s life, the newer SLT does not have this limitation. The laser lowers intraocular pressure by stimulating the body’s own immune system which then works to “clean out the clogged drain” in the eye. As a general principle, patients with newly diagnosed glaucoma are placed on medications in the form of eyedrops. Many patients require more than one type of eydrop on a routine basis. Not infrequently, patients require three to four types of medications on a daily basis. These patients can have difficulty maintaining strict compliance with their medical regimen. In these patients, SLT can be used to replace at least one and occasionally two of the three to four eyedrops a patient may be using. Across the United States, the application of SLT laser treatment has expanded rapidly over the past 5 years.
Thus, in summary, SLT is a safe, effective technology which can be used to lower the pressure in the eye and prevent glaucomatous nerve damage. A complete article on the role of SLT including its development, its impact, and its role in the management of glaucoma can be obtained by visiting http://www.ophmanagement.com/article.aspx?article=103525