Glaucoma is a group of common eye diseases that causes damage to the optic nerve, most often due to pressure buildup within the eye. While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are a number of treatment options available. Laser treatments can help reduce the risk of suffering further nerve damage and may also minimize or eliminate the requirement for daily glaucoma medications.
Types of Laser Glaucoma Treatments
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Selective laser trabeculoplasty (LST) is a glaucoma laser surgery that reduces pressure within the eye. SLT stimulates the outflow of fluid from inside the eye, thereby reducing the eye pressure by targeting specific cells in the eye’s drainage system with short pulses of low-energy. Ultimately, the SLT procedure has the potential to reduce or stop disease progression or at least reduce the number of glaucoma eye drops you need to take.
Patients with primary open-angle glaucoma may benefit from SLT. This painless in-office procedure can reduce ocular pressure by up to 35 percent on average. It can be used as an additional therapy for individuals who are currently taking topical drugs but need more help to decrease their eye pressure. Patients with early/mild glaucoma who aren’t good candidates for medication regimens may benefit from SLT as a primary treatment.
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI)
Laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) is used to prevent or treat narrow-angle glaucoma. It creates a microscopic hole in the colored region of the eye, the iris, with a concentrated laser beam. The small hole creates an opening, allowing fluid to flow more freely. This helps to unblock the eye’s drainage system.
Unlike other types of glaucoma, narrow-angle glaucoma can induce a sudden “glaucoma attack” that results in permanent vision loss. If you are at risk of developing narrow-angle glaucoma, your eye doctor may offer LPI treatment as a preventative measure.
Endocyclophotocoagulation Laser (ECP)
Many glaucoma patients have an imbalance in their eye’s fluid production and drainage: too much fluid is produced inside the eye, which can lead to a rise in eye pressure. Endocyclophotocoagulation (ECP) is a laser treatment that reduces intraocular pressure by reducing fluid production. The ECP laser can treat a variety of glaucoma conditions either on its own or in conjunction with cataract surgery. The ECP laser may minimize the number of eye drops required or reduce ocular pressure while using the same number of drops.
In this procedure, the surgeon carefully focuses laser energy at the ciliary processes, the part of the inside of the eye that produces fluid, by using a small video camera at the tip of the ECP laser device. When the ciliary processes are treated with a laser, the eye produces less fluid, and the intraocular pressure drops in most cases.
What to Expect With a Laser Glaucoma Procedure
After deciding laser glaucoma treatment is right for you, you will have a consultation with your glaucoma surgeon or laser specialist.
Most laser treatments are performed in your eye doctor’s office, while others are performed at a local surgical center. General anesthesia is not required. However, you should arrange to have a friend or family member drive you to and from the surgery. Eye drops containing an anesthetic will numb your eyes. The laser process itself normally takes just a few minutes per eye.
After laser glaucoma treatment, most patients are able to resume their normal activities the next day. However, you may experience some temporary blurriness in your vision or sensitivity to light following your operation. Your surgical team will provide you with post-procedure instructions, which typically include administering anti-inflammatory eye drops, as well as a follow-up consultation.
Schedule an appointment with VisionMD Eye Doctors to learn more about glaucoma laser treatments and whether they are right for you.VisionMD Eye Doctors serves patients from College Park, Glenn Dale, Washington, D.C, and Bowie, all throughout MD.