Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is an FDA-approved procedure for the reduction of intra-ocular pressure (high pressure in the eye) in patients with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma. SLT is a gentle and non-invasive procedure and is an effective option for most glaucoma patients. The SLT laser uses highly-effective, short pulses of low energy light to target the melanin, or pigment, in specific cells of the affected eye to help facilitate the outflow of fluid from the eye, thereby reducing the pressure inside the eye. Since the procedure works at microscopic levels, it may take a few weeks to realize the full effect of the procedure after the surgery is performed.
Prior to the actual SLT laser procedure, an ophthalmologist conducts a pressure measurement to determine the eye’s intra-ocular pressure. Eye drops are 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. You will hear the laser pulses as short ticking sounds and may see bright flashes of light. The entire procedure will take approximately 10 minutes. Afterwards, the ophthalmologists will treat the eye with anti-inflammatory eye drops. One to three days after the procedure, your intra-ocular pressure should drop significantly, however it may take several weeks before the complete impact of the procedure can be determined.
The patient is required to continue taking any glaucoma drops or medicines previously prescribed until the full effect of the laser is determined. After this is achieved, the doctor may reduce the number of drops or medications that the patient is taking. The effects of the laser can last anywhere between 2-5 years. This does not mean that the patient is cured, however, and an ophthalmologist will want to continue to re-check the treated eye during periodic follow-up visits.
The advantages of SLT laser treatment are:
- Reduction or elimination of daily eye drops
- Elimination of compliance issues (forgetting eye drops, being out of drops)
- Increased cost effectiveness over time
- Reduction of ocular surface disease due to eye drops
There are different types of glaucoma. While SLT works on most, it does not work for all. Your ophthalmologist will help you choose the most appropriate course of action.
Frequently Asked Questions about SLT
What should I expect during SLT Therapy?
Before the laser treatment, a health care worker will place eye drops in your eyes. During the laser therapy, you will be looking through a lens, similar to when you are having an eye exam. Your eye doctor will apply the laser through the lens and you will hear a series of clicks. The process typically takes a few minutes and the majority of patients describe it as painless.
What should I expect after SLT Therapy?
The most common side effect of SLT is mild eye irritation. Your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops to treat the mild irritation for a short time after the procedure. For many patients, the mild irritation goes away on its own in a day or two.
Can I stop taking my glaucoma medication after I have SLT?
You will need to schedule a follow-up appointment with your eye doctor to determine how effective SLT was in lowering your eye pressure. Your eye doctor may have you continue to take your current eye drop medication or may prescribe a new medication. Only your eye doctor can determine if and when you can stop taking your medication.
Can I have SLT therapy more than once?
Unlike other laser therapies for the treatment of glaucoma, SLT is repeatable. Your eye doctor may perform a series of treatments over a period of weeks or months to reduce your eye pressure. If your eye pressure should increase over the years, SLT may be repeated to reduce your eye pressure again.
Do you ever forget to take your glaucoma medication?
More than 90% of glaucoma patients do not take their prescription eye drop medications regularly. Forgetting to take your medication can cause large changes in eye pressure that can increase your risk for vision loss.
SLT may reduce the long-term hassle, discomfort, and risks that come with forgetting to take your eye drop medication.
Are you looking for glaucoma therapy with long-term control?
SLT provides the same eye pressure control as the #1-prescribed glaucoma eye drop medication. SLT is clinically-proven to provide long-term control of eye pressure and may reduce or eliminate your need to take eye drop medication. SLT does not cause long-term redness or irritation of the eye that is often associated with commonly prescribed eye drop medication.
Are you spending too much on glaucoma medication?
SLT is a cost-effective glaucoma therapy. SLT may reduce or eliminate your need to take eye drop medication for glaucoma. This means that you could reduce the amount of money that you spend on your eye drop medication.