12 Feb Could you Laser Away Your Glaucoma Drops?
Glaucoma is an eye disease where the pressure inside the eye (IOP) is too high. This higher pressure damages the optic nerve resulting in the progressive loss of peripheral vision. The loss of peripheral vision can usually be stopped if the IOP is lowered to the normal range which is between 10-21 mm Hg. This can be accomplished with eye drops, laser, or surgery.
A recent study in the October 2012 Journal of Glaucoma showed that Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) was as effective as eye drops at lowering the pressure when patients were checked at 9 and 12 months into the study. SLT is a simple laser treatment applied in the office in the eye with glaucoma. The laser spots are applied at the drainage angle were fluid leaves the eye called the “trabecular meshwork.” This increases the natural outflow of fluid and lowers the IOP.
Those in the SLT treatment group had a starting IOP of 24.5 which was lowered to 18.5 after the laser. Those in the eye drop treatment group had a starting IOP of 24.7 which was lowered to 17.7 with the medication. Twenty-seven % of the patients in the eye drop group required more than one medicine to reach the target IOP.
The advantage of the SLT is that during the study most patients only had to have the laser applied one time. Compare that to the hassles of the eye drops which needed to be applied every day during the study. This is great news for those that dislike eye drops which can cause eye irritation or allergy and have to be purchased at the pharmacy every month. Another problem with the drops is that they only work if patients remember to put them in.
We have been using the SLT laser to help our glaucoma patients at our office in Fort Collins with good results. If you have glaucoma, discuss all your treatment options with your eye doctor. Drops, SLT, and surgery have potential complications, advantages and disadvantages that you will want to discuss in detail with your provider. If you have any further questions please post a comment or schedule an appointment at 970 221-2222.