Because glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and worldwide, ophthalmologists are eager to detect the condition early and treat it effectively as possible. Traditional treatment has included daily drops, but a new laser treatment virtually eliminates the need for daily treatment.
During selective laser trabeculoplasty, or SLT, laser treatment is applied to the drain of the eye to open it and let fluid out, lowering the eye pressure and saving sight. SLT treatment takes only a few minutes, is performed in an ophthalmologist’s office (not the operating room), is safe, and effectively lowers eye pressure in most people. The treatment is approved by the FDA for treating glaucoma, and is covered by essentially all insurance plans.
Individuals at risk for glaucoma and those over the age of 40 should have regular, comprehensive eye exams that include careful evaluation of the optic nerve and measurement of eye pressure.
Many people with glaucoma are unaware they have it until there is a large amount of irreversible vision loss. While anyone can develop glaucoma, some people are at a higher risk, including:
- People with a family history of glaucoma
- People with high intraocular pressure, or pressure inside the eye
- Everyone over age 60
- Hispanics over the age of 60
- People with diabetes
- People who have used steroids for a long period of time
- People with physical eye injuries
In eyes with glaucoma, the eye pressure is usually higher than normal. The eye is filled with clear fluid that flows in through a spigot and flows out through a drain. In glaucoma, the drain of the eye gets plugged, and fluid coming into the eye cannot get out, raising the eye pressure. This high eye pressure causes nerve damage, which leads to loss of sight.
Glaucoma is treated by lowering the eye pressure to prevent further damage. Eye pressure can be lowered in several ways. One common way to lower eye pressure is to use eye drop medication. Not every glaucoma patient is comfortable putting drops in his/her eyes; and SLT may eliminate the need for drops without causing any permanent tissue damage. Contact our office to find out if the SLT laser treatment is right for you.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma – Beyond Eye Drops