Glaucoma is a disease that is often characterized by improper drainage in the eye and increased eye pressure. There are many different types of surgeries for treating this condition, with each one tailored to the unique glaucoma condition faced by the patient. Laser trabeculoplasty is one glaucoma surgery option that utilizes a focused laser beam to correct the drainage angle present in the eye. This helps reduce pressure in the eye by allowing excess fluid to drain out through the front portion of the eye. Here is what you need to know about this surgery to decide if it's right for you.
Laser Trabeculoplasty Basics
Laser trabeculoplasty can be broken down to two types of surgery: selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT). The main difference is that SLT utilizes a lower power laser than ALT, and is usually reserved for less severe cases. Laser trabeculoplasty surgery is utilized after a patient has already tried medication without reduction in glaucoma symptoms, and is one of the more common glaucoma surgeries. Usually, laser trabeculoplasty is performed before more invasive glaucoma surgeries are attempted.
The surgery is not seen as effective for glaucoma that arises due to inflammation, so it's important to speak with your eye surgeon to see if this surgery is right for you.
How The Surgery Is Performed
For your eye surgery, your eye surgeon will first place drops in your eye to numb it. Then, he or she will direct a specialized laser into the trabecular meshwork of your eye, also known as your eye canals. This is the area where fluid drains from your eye. The eye surgeon will burn very small parts of this trabecular meshwork. The doctor then will again apply drops to reduce eye pressure and other complications that can occur following surgery.
Ultimately, laser trabeculoplasty is an out-patient surgery and does not require a hospital stay. You may simply need to attend some follow-up exams to ensure the surgery was performed properly and your glaucoma is improving.
Dealing with Risks
Laser trabeculoplasty complications are rare, but argon laser trabeculoplasty can only be performed two to three times due to the increased scarring in the eye it causes. You may also experience pain, decreased vision, and temporary inflammation and cloudiness. In very rare cases, the surgery may lead to an increase in pressure in your eye that can cause serious vision loss.
For argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT), about 75 percent of patients will experience a reduction in pressure in their eye. Similar rates are seen for selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), and for SLT, patients will usually experience a 30 percent reduction in intraocular pressure on average.
For more information about laser trabeculoplasty, contact an eye surgeon such as Todd S. Kirk, MD.