Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” because if left untreated it will slowly, quietly steal your side vision until you have no sight left. Glaucoma occurs predominantly after age 40 years and is caused by damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world! Once vision is lost to glaucoma, it can never be recovered. However, there are fortunately many effective medical, laser, and surgical treatments for this disease.
As with any disease, the key to the successful management of glaucoma lies in its early diagnosis. Advanced glaucoma is difficult to control so it is very important that patients after age 40 have regular eye exams to screen for glaucoma so it can be detected in its earliest, most treatable stage.
Once a diagnosis of glaucoma is made, the eye doctor needs to discuss the various treatment options available to the patient. In the past, medicines in the form of eye drops and pills were used as the first line of treatment. Laser and surgery were only used after medical therapy had failed. However, over the last several years, a revolutionary new glaucoma treatment called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) has emerged and is challenging this old way of thinking.
In many ways, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) meets the requirements for the ideal treatment:
- Extremely safe
- Virtually painless
- Extremely effective (It really works!)
- Minimal side effects
- Cost effective
- Readily available
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a Q-switched, frequency doubled Neodymium Yag laser operating at 532nm. This laser selectively targets pigmented cells which can cause glaucoma as the pigment blokes the natural drainage channels (trabecular meshwork) inside the eye. While the SLT laser gently removes pigment from your eyes’ drainage system, it does not cause any damage to the surrounding tissue unlike the ALT laser of the past.
Compare Thermal Effects of SLT to ALT