Laser eye surgery is very frequently used to treat open-angle glaucoma. Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) laser eye treatment is a newer type of treatment for this disease. It is an outpatient procedure and appears to be effective to lower eye pressure in many open-angle glaucoma patients.
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SLT is used to treat patients with glaucoma by reducing the pressure in the eye while causing less damage to the eye. While argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) uses a high energy laser to improve the drainage of fluid from the eye, SLT uses a low energy laser to open the clogged drainage canals so that fluid can drain out of the eye and lower the eye pressure.
SLT stimulates the body to utilise natural mechanisms to improve the outflow of the eye. The laser in SLT procedures operates differently than the laser in the ALT procedure by treating specific melanin-containing cells in the trabecular meshwork or the drainage system of the eye while leaving other cells untouched. It is generally effective in reducing eye pressure.
As an out-patient procedure, the SLT laser eye treatment is administered while the patient is seated at a slit lamp that contains the laser. The physician places an anesthetic drop into the eye and applies a special contact lens through which the laser beam shots are placed. The procedure takes only a few minutes; afterward, the physician will recheck the eye pressure.
There are several benefits to the SLT eye laser treatment. Because it treats selective cells in the trabecular meshwork and does not damage the surrounding tissue, SLT can be repeated at a later date. After undergoing SLT, the patient often does not need to continue eye drops so there is the lower cost of medications. According to a review by Latina and colleagues, some physicians consider SLT a primary treatment option for patients with open-angle glaucoma. SLT also does not interfere with any future glaucoma surgical procedures that a patient may need.
During the SLT, the patient should not feel any pain although there may be some sensations felt during the procedure. The risks of laser eye treatments may include an undesirable increase in eye pressure, bleeding, scratchiness and inflammation. There is also a small risk of future development of cataracts, loss of vision or loss of an eye. There are no systemic complications like eye drops often have. The eye surgeon will discuss all of these potential complications with the patient before the procedure.
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