Also known as Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, SLT is a simple, yet highly effective laser procedure that reduces the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma. It is performed in your ophthalmologist's rooms, and takes no more than five minutes.

SLT uses short pulses of low-energy light to target the melanin, or pigment, in the specific cell of the affected eye. In response, the body's natural healing mechanisms go to work to rebuild these cells. This rebuilding process improves drainage and lowers the intraocular pressure. The surrounding, non-pigmented cells, as well as the rest of the eye structure, are untouched and undamaged.

SLT is painless, and there are no side effects to worry about.

Prior to treatment, eye drops are administered to prepare the eye and provide mild anaesthesia. Then, gentle pulses of light are delivered through a specially designed microscope. The entire process just takes a few minutes. When it's complete, your physician may treat your eye with anti-inflammatory eye drops.

One to three days after the procedure, your intraocular pressure should drop significantly, and of course, your physician will want to re-check the treated eye during periodic follow-up visits.

SLT is gentle, non thermal and non-invasive; which allows the procedure to be repeated if necessary. In comparison, repeat treatments of previous approaches in laser therapy were either extremely limited or not possible.

If you fit into any of the following categories, you're a good candidate for SLT:

  • If you have primary open-angle, pseudoexfoliation, pigmentary or juvenile glaucoma. (Your ophthalmologist will be able to advise you on this).
  • If you are intolerant of glaucoma medications, or have difficulty taking them as prescribed.
  • If you are currently undergoing glaucoma drug therapy and wish to combine it with SLT.
  • If it is difficult for you to commit to regular follow-up treatments, due to finances, lack of transportation, or other limitations.
  • If you have a history of failed ALT (argon laser trabeculoplasty) treatments.

SLT lowers intraocular pressure by an average of 25 % in more than 75% of patients treated. For those that do not respond, other forms of drug treatment, including traditional drug therapy, can still be highly effective.

The eye's aqueous fluid is constantly produced and drained at a balanced rate to ensure the health of the lens and cornea. When this drainage becomes blocked, intraocular pressure increases and open-angle glaucoma (the most common form of glaucoma) occurs. In order to preserve eyesight, it is critical to decrease and control intraocular pressure.

The green ring outlining the gradual enlarging of the optic nerve "cup" shows the progression of the disease.

  • Drug therapy is the most common form of treatment for open-angle glaucoma; however, there are side effects, and medications aren't effective for all patients as well as remembering to take your medication every day.
  • If non-surgical methods fail, surgery may be attempted to create a new drainage channel. Unfortunately, this is a highly invasive procedure with a risk of bleeding and infection.
  • Argon laser trabeculoplasty was formerly the most widely used laser treatment for glaucoma. There are many problems associated with ALT, including irreversible damage to the eye, along with permanent scarring.

For those that do not respond to SLT treatment, other forms of treatment—including traditional drug therapy—can still be very effective.

Selective laser trabeculoplasty was introduced worldwide in 1995, and it gained FDA approval for use in Australia in 2001.


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