SLT can be used as the first treatment once glaucoma is diagnosed, avoiding the usual need for daily eye drops. It may be used in patients already on eye drops to allow them to stop their eye drops if found to be inconvenient or if side effects are a problem. Finally, it may be used in an attempt to avoid the need for glaucoma surgery if eye drops are not controlling the pressure well enough.
SLT is covered by all major private medical insurance companies.
What to expect
SLT is done in the outpatient clinic at the Nuffield Hospital Taunton as a day treatment. It takes only about 5 to 10 minutes per eye to do and is painless. The treatment is given on a machine very similar to the examination microscope, with the patient sitting up. Before the treatment begins Mr Rossiter will apply anaesthetic eye drops to numb the front of the eye and position a special contact lens onto the eye which helps to aim the laser hold the eyelids out of the way. It is usual to treat the whole drainage angle in one sitting with 120 laser applications. These are usually painless and quite quick, taking 5 to 10 mins per eye.
After the treatment another eye drop is put in to prevent any immediate rise in the eye pressure which sometimes may occur.
The eye pressure is then checked 6 weeks later.
Studies show that the laser is effective in 90% of cases at one year. It does however wear off in some patients and the success rate 5 years later is approximately 50%. It is not possible to predict for an individual what are the chances of success. The beauty of this new laser is that it can be repeated 4 or 5 times with equal chance of success.