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Treating Glaucoma through Laser Trabeculoplasty

It is a common expectation that people will experience at least some loss of vision throughout life. Some children may require corrective lenses at a young age, while others who previously had perfect vision may develop presbyopia later on. In addition, other eye conditions may develop with age. Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye suffers continual damage due to pressure, causing an increased loss of vision over time. Although there are various forms of glaucoma, each can lead to permanent eye damage and possible blindness if left untreated for too long.

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, our Chicago eye-care center can provide numerous treatment options to slow its effects. One particular treatment method is laser trabeculoplasty, which can help preserve eyesight without significant side effects or risks to your health. See how this laser eye surgery technique can help save your vision, and what you can expect from treatment.

Types of Glaucoma

Before deciding on an appropriate treatment option, patients must understand which type of glaucoma is present. In some cases, glaucoma occurs suddenly and relatively rapidly, causing pain and discoloration of the eye. This is called acute closed-angle glaucoma, and although it is the more serious version of this condition, it is especially rare.

More commonly, patients who are diagnosed have chronic open-angle glaucoma, which results in a gradual loss of vision. Because it occurs slowly, however, most patients do not realize they have this condition until significant damage has already occurred. In open-angle glaucoma, a blockage occurs in the passage of fluid between the iris and cornea. When this fluid cannot drain naturally, a build-up of pressure causes damage to nearby nerves, resulting in vision loss. Luckily, there are multiple treatment options to relieve this pressure and counter its damage.

What Is Laser Trabeculoplasty?

A trabeculoplasty utilizes a cool laser to target individual cells in the part of the eye responsible for fluid drainage. As the eye heals, the area opens up, promoting drainage and relieving pressure from surrounding nerves. Because the laser only targets melanin cells, no additional damage is caused to the eye’s functioning tissues.

Traditionally, this procedure has been performed using argon laser trabeculoplasty. Although this technique still produces positive results, many doctors are now using selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), which uses a lower-power laser for minimal discomfort and side effects.

How Is SLT Performed?

SLT is an outpatient procedure, lasting only a few minutes in total. Still, you should arrange for a ride to and from the office, since the procedure’s side effects will impair your ability to drive safely immediately afterward.

  • Before the surgery itself, eye drops will be administered to relieve discomfort and prepare the eye for treatment.
  • The laser will be guided into position with a special lens and microscope, allowing the doctor to accurately target the right tissues from an appropriate angle.
  • The laser will be used to remove minute areas of tissue.
  • Additional eye drops will be administered to stabilize the eye, preventing additional pressure from accumulating while it heals.

After surgery, patients may experience temporary discomfort, inflammation, cloudiness, and impaired vision. Any lingering side effects should be expected to resolve within two to three days, at which point the eye will be healed.

The Benefits of SLT

For three out of every four patients, SLT can reduce pressure in the eye by about 30 percent, slowing the progression of glaucoma. The treatment’s results vary in duration, but typically last up to five years. If pressure resumes after five years and eyesight begins to degrade at an increasing pace, treatment can be repeated.

One of the primary benefits of SLT is its use as a supplemental treatment option. Medication is often the first step toward treating glaucoma, and if it proves to be insufficient, patients can undergo SLT as well. This is also an easier and less invasive option than other surgical methods, such as a corneal transplant.

Preserve Your Vision with Us

Glaucoma should be treated as soon as it is diagnosed. If you are experiencing ongoing vision loss, come in for an exam and consultation. With the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan, we can help slow the effects of glaucoma or similarly damaging conditions. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.

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