Selective laser trabeculoplasty, or SLT, is a gentle and non-invasive treatment for glaucoma. This quick and simple procedure is an effective option for most glaucoma patients, but is especially suited to patients who cannot tolerate or are unable to self-administer glaucoma medications. Highly effective, SLT is used as a primary treatment for the early stages of open angle glaucoma, and can also be used in combination with drug therapy, or as an alternative therapy when drugs fail. It is also a flexible treatment option, because it can be repeated, if necessary, depending on the individual patient’s response.
The SLT technique is not associated with adverse side effects and is a pain-free, outpatient-based procedure performed in your ophthalmologist’s office.
How it Works
SLT uses short pulses of low-energy light to target the melanin, or pigment, in specific cells of the affected eye. In response, the body’s natural healing mechanisms go to work to rebuild these cells – a process that improves drainage and lowers intraocular pressure. The surrounding, non-pigmented cells – as well as the rest of the eye – are untouched and undamaged.
What to Expect
In 80 percent of patients treated, SLT lowers intraocular pressure by an average of 25 percent. There are no major risks or complications associated with SLT – the worst that can happen is that you do not respond to the treatment.
Will I still need to continue using drugs following the SLT procedure?
Maybe. Each individual is different. Although there is a chance you can eliminate or reduce medications, SLT cannot guarantee this.
Prior to treatment, the ophthalmologist conducts a pressure measurement to determine the eye’s intraocular pressure. Eye drops are then administered to prepare the eye for treatment and to provide mild anesthesia.
During treatment, gentle pulses of light are delivered through a specially designed microscope. Your ophthalmologist will hold a lens to your eye for better viewing, and you will likely hear the laser pulses as short ticking sounds and may see bright flashes of light. The entire procedure will take approximately three to five minutes. When it’s complete, your ophthalmologist will usually prescribe an anti-inflammatory eye drop (often Nevanac) to be used for 1 – 2 weeks post operatively.
In the majority of patients, there is often an immediate response to SLT – one to three days after the procedure, your intraocular pressure should drop significantly. However, in some patients, SLT treatment may take from weeks to a few months before impacting eye pressure. During this time, your eye pressure might even rise before finally settling into a new lower range.
And of course, we will want to re-check the treated eye during periodic follow-up visits in our office.
How often do I need to receive SLT treatments?
One application typically lasts for many years. Depending on your individual circumstances and goals, another application is often needed at some point in the future.
Who will benefit from SLT?
If you fit into any of the following categories, you’re a good candidate for SLT:
- If you have primary open angle, pseudoexfoliation, or pigmentary glaucoma.
- If you are intolerant of glaucoma medications, or have difficulty taking them as prescribed.
- If you are currently undergoing glaucoma drug therapy and wish to combine it with SLT.
- If it is difficult for you to commit to regular follow-up treatments, due to finances, lack of transportation, or other limitations.