What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. It can cause blindness if left untreated, though only about half of the estimated three million Americans who have glaucoma know they are affected. Glaucoma generally produces few early symptoms and the disease progresses slowly.
While glaucoma is often treated with medicated eye drops, sometimes surgery becomes necessary. We perform selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), a procedure that uses a low-level energy laser to target specific cells in the trabecular meshwork, the eye’s drainage channels. This stimulates the eye’s draining function, easing the buildup of pressure from fluid.
What to Expect
Glaucoma surgery is an outpatient procedure that generally requires one follow-up exam.
The doctor will put eye drops in the eyes before or after the procedure to decrease fluid and prevent elevation in pressure. A special microscope and lens will guide the laser beam to the canals where fluid drains. The doctor will then make small burns in the trabecular meshwork. While discomfort is usually minimal, some people will feel a heat sensation in the eye.
Complications are rare, but the most common one is an increase in eye pressure. The pressure may be normal after surgery, but it can rise sharply within one to four hours. This can be prevented by using apraclonidine or brimonidine before or after surgery, especially in people with high intraocular pressure.
Other complications may include:
- Inflammation of the colored part of the eye
- Clouding of the cornea
- Blockage of the draining angle
- Decreased vision
How to Prepare
No preparation is necessary, though mild discomfort may exist temporarily after the procedure.