Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a type of laser surgery used to treat open-angle glaucoma. The procedure offers an alternative for those glaucoma patients who have been unresponsive to pressure-lowering eye drops or or would prefer to try an alternative to eye drop therapy.
The SLT laser selectively treats cells within the trabecular meshwork, a spongy material that acts as a drain for the eye. During the procedure, surgeons hold a special lens to the eye. This lens serves to focus light and the laser onto the trabecular meshwork for treatment. Next, the laser creates a series of evenly spaced pulses of energy in the meshwork. This appears to induce a mild immune response that allows the drainage system to function better, but the exact mechanism by which this procedure works isn’t entirely clear.
SLT is performed as an outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic. The procedure takes about fifteen minutes to complete. If glaucoma is present in both eyes, separate surgeries will be scheduled, generally one to two weeks apart. The eye pressure will be checked following the procedure. Patients will need to schedule post-operative visits so that the doctor can monitor eye pressure to ensure its success. It is also important that patients continue to use pressure-lowering eye drops as prescribed by their doctor.
The effects of SLT surgery can diminish with time, but one advantage of SLT surgery is that it can be repeated. As with any surgery, complications can occur with SLT, but they are very uncommon. The most common side effect of surgery is inflammation, which can be treated with drops.