An increase in ocular pressure causes most cases of glaucoma. Patients with open-angle glaucoma needing eye pressure control can benefit from selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), a procedure lowering pressure in the eye. The top eye specialists at Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center explain why SLT may mean glaucoma patients no longer need eyedrops.
Glaucoma and Eyedrops
The use of eyedrops has long been the first-line option for treating glaucoma and eye pressure. Prostaglandin analog eyedrops are the preferred choice. They work by increasing fluid outflow, thus reducing intraocular pressure. These eyedrops can change eye color and stimulate eyelash growth. Other eyedrop medications for treating glaucoma and intraocular pressure include:
- Beta blockers – These decrease the eye’s fluid production.
- Alpha agonists – These drugs decrease fluid production while increasing drainage. They are often used in patients sensitive to preservatives in other eyedrops.
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (CAIs) – By decreasing intraocular fluid production, CAIs lower eye pressure.
- Rho kinase inhibitors – This class of drug increases intraocular fluid drainage.
Many ophthalmologists still rely on medications as the primary treatment for these conditions, but SLT is increasingly seen as a better option. The downside of using eyedrops, besides certain side effects such as dry eye, is that they are only effective if applied as directed. Patients may forget to use their eyedrops. Eyedrops for glaucoma are often costly, and patients may not use eyedrops as directed to cut back on expenses.
SLT treatment involves directing a focused light ray into the trabecular meshwork. Located around the cornea’s base, the trabecular meshwork drains aqueous humor from the eye through the anterior chamber. The laser stimulates the body’s immune response system.
While it takes several weeks to see results, the immune response increases the amount of fluid leaving the eye and decreases intraocular pressure.
Keep in mind that SLT does not cure glaucoma. It simply reduces eye pressure and does not improve vision.
Post-operative inflammation often occurs after SLT. Most cases are mild. Anti-inflammatory eyedrops can treat most cases of inflammation, although antibiotic ointments and other treatments are sometimes necessary.
Will I Need Eyedrops?
After SLT, you may or may not need to continue using eyedrops. Many patients can reduce the frequency of eyedrop use or the number of eyedrops they are using even if eyedrops are still needed.
SLT is considered successful if eye pressure lowers. You might still need to take the same glaucoma medications. Much depends on the type of glaucoma, and the progression rate.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma and would like more information about SLT, contact the eye care specialists at Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center to schedule a consultation.