There are two types of laser trabeculoplasty:
- Argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT)
- Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Selective laser trabeculoplasty is a safe, effective, and minimally evasive form of laser surgery that is used to lower intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension. SLT is the most commonly performed laser trabeculoplasty procedure because of its favorable safety profile. It is referred to as “selective” because the laser that is used during this procedure has minimal heat energy absorption and is only taken up by “selected” pigmented tissue in the eye.
Benefits of SLT
- May be covered by Medicare or other insurance providers
- Uses selective photothermolysis to target only specific pigmented cells, leaving surrounding tissue intact
- Not associated with systemic side effects or compliance and cost concerns of daily medications
- Stimulates the body’s natural mechanisms to enhance aqueous humor outflow from the eye
SLT may be used as initial treatment in glaucoma and is used when eye drops aren’t lowering the eye pressure or are causing significant side effects. SLT may also be used in conjunction with anti-glaucoma medication when medication has failed to reduce intraocular pressure.
SLT works by applying laser energy to the drainage tissue in the eye. This causes a chemical and biological change in the tissue that results in better draining of fluid through the drain and out of the eye – eventually lowering the intraocular pressure. However, results may take up to 1-3 months to appear.
When used as initial therapy, SLT lowers the IOP (intraocular pressure) by about 30%. However, not all patients respond to SLT and its effects are typically not permanent.
Selective laser trabeculoplasty is typically performed as an outpatient procedure and only takes a few minutes to complete. Eye pressure may drop quickly; however, more time is typically required for maximum effects to develop.
Although rare, complications following SLT may include a temporary increase in intraocular pressure, inflammation, blurry vision, iritis, headache, corneal edema, eye pain or conjunctival inflammation.
Patients who have primary open-angle glaucoma, ocular hypertension, or normal tension glaucoma and need to lower their intraocular pressure, are eligible for SLT. However, your eye doctor will help you decide which procedure is best for your particular situation.