What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly damaged then destroyed. It is a leading cause of blindness and vision impairment affecting approximately 2.5 million Americans.
In most people glaucoma is caused by an increase in pressure inside the eye as a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous humor (fluid), or its drainage. In some patients damage may also be caused by poor blood supply to the optic nerve fibers, a weakness in the structure of the nerve or a problem in the health of the nerve fibers themselves.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty
Glaucoma Laser Surgery in New Smyrna Beach is a procedure that the Precision Eye Institute offers – Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, or STL, is a form of laser surgery that is used to lower intraocular pressure in glaucoma.
It is used when eye drop medications are not lowering the eye pressure enough or are causing significant side effects. It can also be used as initial treatment in glaucoma. SLT has been in use for more than 25 years in the United States and around the world.
Who is a canidate for STL?
Patients who have primary or secondary open-angle glaucoma (the drainage system in the front part of the eye is open) and are in need of lowering of their intraocular pressure (IOP) are eligible for the procedure. Your eye doctor will make the final determination if you are a candidate.
How does it work?
Laser energy is applied to the drainage tissue in the eye. This starts a chemical and biological change in the tissue that results in better drainage of fluid through the drain and out of the eye. This eventually results in lowering of IOP. It may take 1-3 months for the results to appear. The type of laser used has minimal heat energy absorption because it is only taken up by selected pigmented tissue in the eye. Sometimes it is referred to as a “cold laser.” Because of this, the procedure produces less scar tissue and has minimal pain.
What are the risks?
One key aspect of SLT is a favorable side effect profile, even when compared with glaucoma medications. Post-operative inflammation is common but generally mild, and treated with observation or eye drops or an oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. There is an approximately 5% incidence of IOP elevation after laser, which can be managed by glaucoma medications and usually goes away after 24 hours.
If SLT fails to lower the IOP, then the glaucoma is treated by other means such as medications or surgery. The laser does not affect the success of these other types of treatment.
What are the costs?
Since the procedure is an accepted glaucoma treatment, and is FDA approved, it is covered by Medicare and medical insurance. The cost for an uninsured individual or with an insurance co-pay will vary. For questions regarding Glaucoma Laser Surgery in New Smyrna Beach, contact the eye care professionals at the Precision Eye Institute.