Glaucoma Laser Treatments
In addition to prescription eye drops, your ophthalmologist may recommend a laser procedure to treat your glaucoma. During these procedures, your doctor can use a medical laser to relieve eye pressure (intraocular pressure) and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
For the treatment of open-angle glaucoma, laser procedures focus on increasing the outflow of fluid (aqueous humor) from the eye or decreasing the formation of aqueous humor. For angle-closure glaucoma, laser treatments are used to create a small opening in your iris (the colored part of your eye) to allow the outflow of fluid.
Laser treatments for glaucoma can typically be performed in-office and are relatively painless and safe.
Types of Glaucoma Laser Treatments
The specific type of laser treatment your doctor recommends is dependent on the specific type of glaucoma with which you have been diagnosed and its severity.
A laser iridotomy can be performed for those with angle-closure glaucoma. In this form of glaucoma, the drainage angle between the iris and the cornea (the clear front window of the eye), called the trabecular meshwork, is too small. This narrow/closed angle restricts proper drainage of fluid from the eye, leading to increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and vision loss associated with glaucoma. During a laser iridotomy procedure, a laser is used to create a small opening in your iris to widen the drainage angle and to allow fluid to flow more freely through the trabecular meshwork. This may lead to a reduction in IOP.
There are two types of laser trabeculoplasty procedures: argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). The glaucoma specialists at DMEI provide both of these laser techniques for those with open-angle glaucoma. The goal of both procedures is to relieve IOP by stimulating the eye’s internal drainage system so that it allows adequate outflow of fluid from the eye. Your doctor will determine which form of the treatment is the best option for you based on your unique situation.
In more complex open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma cases, laser cyclophotocoagulation may be used to decrease the eye’s production of aqueous humor. Two types of laser technology (transscleral cyclophotocoagulation and endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation) are used in this procedure, with both working to alter the fluid-forming cells in the ciliary body of the eye so that they produce less fluid, thus decreasing IOP. These laser treatments are most often performed at our ambulatory McGee Eye Surgery Center.
Laser treatments for glaucoma are outpatient procedures that are performed in our office (except for cyclophotocoagulation). Your eye may be slightly irritated and your vision slightly blurry following the procedure, but you should be able to resume normal daily activities the same day. You should arrange for someone to drive you home following your laser treatment.