Today a patient of mine brought in a local throw-away “newspaper” to show me an advertisement by another Ophthalmologist for SLT (selective laser trabeculoplasty), touting it as the greatest advancement in the treatment of glaucoma and how you could have this procedure and throw away your drops. I thought this would make good material for today’s entry!
SLT is a quick and easy in-office procedure that works about 85% of the time in lowering the pressure of the eye in correctly chosen patients. Some types of glaucoma respond better to this treatment than others, but in those who respond, the effect usually lasts about 3 years and it can be repeated down the road if the pressure goes back up. Although it works better in some forms of glaucoma than others, it is a wonderful tool to have in our battle against glaucoma damage.
Patients who use glaucoma drops frequently have ocular surface issues after being on the drops for a while. If they have dry eye, the drops exacerbate this condition. Sometimes a patient can come off the drops and use the SLT procedure to control the pressure. Other times, I start treating a patient with glaucoma by using the SLT procedure. I know if I had glaucoma, it would be the first treatment I would try. Despite its success, I consider it no different that a glaucoma patient on drops. In other words, they still have to be checked every 4 months to be sure things are stable. Yes, they still need the dreaded visual field test and a dilated exam once a year, but at least they may not have to use drops in addition. One of the best features of SLT over drops is the cost. SLT is covered by your insurance while the drops usually cost you money out of pocket!
Precision Eye Care was the first in the Huntington area to offer the SLT and we could do this due to the high volume of glaucoma patients we see. The laser is very expensive but we are happy with how well it works and we will continue to bring new advances in eye care to our community!