If you have open-angle glaucoma and the disease is progressing despite the use of medication, your doctor may recommend laser trabeculoplasty as an initial surgical option. The malfunctioning internal drainage system of your eye is the cause of glaucoma, leading to an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). Laser trabeculoplasty uses a focused beam of light to treat the drainage angle in your eye and improve the flow of fluid. Contrary to what you may think, newer laser technology does not burn your eye or create a large hole. Instead, the laser makes subtle changes to the eye’s drainage system to make it easier for fluid to flow out of the front part of the eye. This, in turn, lowers the IOP.
There are two different types of lasers which are used for trabeculoplasty: ALT (argon laser trabeculoplasty) and SLT (selective laser trabeculoplasty). ALT uses heat, whereas SLT uses a lower energy laser beam that’s sometimes referred to as a “cold laser.” There is no noticeable difference between the two procedures from a patient point of view. Both procedures have no systemic side effects, and they are both safe, outpatient-based procedures.
What to Expect
The entire laser trabeculoplasty process takes about 10 minutes. Your surgeon may administer a glaucoma drop immediately before and/or after the surgery as well as an anti-inflammatory drop to prevent post-operative inflammation. Laser trabeculoplasty is an outpatient procedure, and you will go home the same day. However, your eyesight may be blurry, so you may need to arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure.
Laser trabeculoplasty, on average, lowers eye pressure by approximately 20-25 percent. The effect of the surgery will usually last somewhere between one to five years.