Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) is one of the most significant advances in the surgical treatment of intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with open-angle glaucoma. SLT is a safe and straightforward 5-minute laser treatment that effectively reduces eye pressure for most patients with glaucoma. SLT can reduce or eliminate the need to use daily glaucoma medications. Studies have shown that less than 50% of glaucoma patients take their medications as prescribed. Many stop taking them due to the numerous side effects experienced, cost, busy lifestyle, and all other daily variables and challenges we all experience. The low percentage of non-responders to SLT therapy can begin traditional medications.
Benefits of SLT
- Safe: SLT is not associated with systemic side effects or the compliance and cost issues of medications.
- Selective: SLT utilizes selective photothermolysis to target only specific cells, leaving the surrounding tissue intact.
- Smart: SLT stimulates the body’s natural mechanisms to enhance the fluid’s outflow in your eye.
- Sensible: SLT therapy is reimbursed by Medicare and many other insurance providers, which minimizes your out-of-pocket expenses.
How SLT works
Selective Laser Therapy (SLT) is an advancement over other lasers that have been used safely and effectively in the treatment of open-angle glaucoma for more than two decades. SLT works by using laser light to stimulate the body’s healing response to lower your eye pressure. Using a particular wavelength and energy, the laser affects only pigmented (melanin-containing) cells of your eye, unlike ALT, which permanently damages and scars the eye. SLT improves the flow of fluid in the eye, which in turn lowers your eye pressure.
How SLT is performed
SLT is usually performed in the physician’s office and only takes a few minutes. Before the procedure, eye drops will be given to prepare the eye for treatment. The laser applications are applied through a regular physician microscope (slit lamp), similar to the one used for eye examinations.
What to expect after SLT treatment
Your eye pressure may drop as quickly as in a day after having SLT performed. The doctor may treat the eye with anti-inflammatory eye drops that will be continued for a few days after the procedure. Patients have no limitations after their procedure and can drive home. Patients will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment to allow the physician to evaluate the results.
FAQ about SLT
What are the side effects of SLT?
Unlike with glaucoma medications, there is no risk of allergy or systemic side-effects with SLT. Complications are rare but may include inflammation, a temporary increase in eye pressure, conjunctivitis, or eye pain. Unlike older laser procedures (such as ALT), SLT does not permanently damage or scar the eye.
Will I feel anything with the laser treatment?
The laser treatment does not cause a sensation. You may see a green flash of light and feel nothing from the laser. The lens used on your eye may cause some temporary redness or irritation.
Will I still need to continue using my eyedrops following the SLT procedure?
It is well documented that Selective Laser Therapy (SLT) can reduce or eliminate your need for glaucoma medications. Results will vary depending upon the severity of the disease.
When given the option, most patients prefer to be treated with SLT Laser therapy than being prescribed the immediate use of medications. Today, many individuals are also concerned about the long-term side effects of drugs or the effects of multiple medicines prescribed. Due to the abundance of drugs being prescribed today, patients are challenged to take their medications properly. When discussing glaucoma therapies with your eye care professional, ask if you are an SLT Therapy candidate.