Laser surgery is typically used prior to incisional surgery to lower the IOP and/or reduce the burden of chronic medications. The vast majority of patients tolerate these procedures without sedation. Only topical anesthetic drops are required for anesthesia, and the patient can return to full activity immediately.
There are two types of glaucoma laser surgery:
Laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI):
Some patients suffer from, or are at risk for, a less common form of glaucoma: angle closure glaucoma. (another illustration). This occurs when the iris blocks the drainage angle of the eye, producing severe IOP elevation.
With LPI, the surgeon makes a tiny opening with a laser in the iris periphery, close to the drainage angle, thus restoring the iris to its normal position. Typically, this alleviates the closed angle and lowers the IOP. LPI can also be used as a preventative measure in patients who naturally have a narrow drainage angle and are at high risk for angle closure glaucoma.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT):
SLT is a safe procedure that can be used at any stage of open angle glaucoma. SLT involves the surgeon using a cool laser to lower IOP. The surgeon precisely places pulses of laser energy on the drainage structures of the eye to improve the structures’ drainage ability. The laser doesn’t create painful burns, holes, or scar tissue. SLT stimulates biological changes within the drainage tissue over the course of a few to several weeks, lowering IOP in over 80% of cases.
The IOP-lowering effects can wane over the course of years; however, SLT can be safely and effectively repeated.
SLT (Selctive Laser Trabeculoplasty)
SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty) is a safe and simple in-office laser treatment that effectively reduces eye pressure for most patients with glaucoma. SLT uses an advanced laser system to target specific cells of the eye. This approach leaves surrounding tissue intact.
Prior to the procedure, eye drops are administered to prepare the eye for treatment. The laser applications are applied through a regular physician microscope, similar to the one used for eye examinations.
SLT works by using laser light to stimulate healing and lower your eye pressure. Using a special wavelength and energy, the laser affects only pigmented (melanin-containing) cells of your eye. The procedure improves the flow of fluid in the eye, which in turn lowers your eye pressure. There is no scarring or damage to the eye.
In most cases, your eye pressure will drop within one to eight weeks following SLT. You may be treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few days after the procedure. Patients have no limitations after SLT and can drive home safely and comfortably. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled so Dr. Stiles can evaluate the results.
Dr. Stiles was the first ophthalmologist in the area to perform this procedure. SLT is typically covered by Medicare and may reduce or eliminate the need to take glaucoma medications.