Mercer County SLT & ALT Laser Therapy for Glaucoma

Laser surgery for glaucoma is becoming an increasingly popular intermediate step between prescription eye drops and traditional glaucoma surgery. The surgeons at Valley Eye Center in Hermitage and Greenville PA have access to both Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT) and the newer Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). These glaucoma laser treatments are intended to facilitate fluid drainage from the eye. This in turn lowers intraocular pressure to either stop or significantly slow down further ocular damage and vision loss.

Both glaucoma surgeries are recommended to treat primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) that continues to progress despite the use of prescription eye drops.

What Is Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT)?

Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty is the most common laser treatment for glaucoma. ALT treatment is an outpatient procedure performed right at our office rather than a surgery center. Shortly after you check in, you’ll be called into a specially equipped laser room. You’ll be seated at a slit-lamp – your forehead resting on a headpiece and your chin rested in a chinrest. We’ll apply some eye drops to completely numb your eye. This means absolutely no needles and injections are necessary.

Once your eye is numbed, an eyelid holder is placed between your eyelids to prevent blinking and minimize eye movement during the procedure.

A special lens is held to your eye. A high-energy beam of light is shined upon this lens; reflecting onto your eye’s trabecular meshwork. This is the drain within the eye where excess aqueous fluid drains prior to re-entering the bloodstream.

Within roughly 10 to 15 minutes, our doctor will make 50 to 100 evenly-paced laser applications. Half the fluid channels are treated in one session. If pressure isn’t sufficiently lowered within a few weeks, the other fluid channels will need to be treated in a separate session.

ALT surgery is a painless procedure although minimal discomfort has been noted. The most common issues observed have been some eye irritation and blurred vision that generally subsides within a day or two. Scar tissue can also develop.

The objective of this procedure is to shrink certain areas of the eye’s drain to stretch adjacent areas and allow for faster fluid drainage. Eye pressure is checked within one hour after the procedure prior to you going home to rest. More eye drops may be prescribed if there’s swelling inside the eye or any soreness.

Subsequent eye pressure checkups are scheduled for the following day and weeks following. Roughly 75% of patients manage to significantly lower eye pressure after ALT treatment. If eye pressure is successfully lowered and controlled, some medications can be discontinued. Regular checkups are recommended because ALT surgery results sometimes wear off over time. More than half of all patients receiving ALT surgery experience an intraocular pressure increase again within 24 months of surgery.

What Is Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)?

Imagine a single outpatient procedure clinically proven to safely and effectively treat glaucoma. A procedure that could potentially save you thousands of dollars in prescription medication costs if long-term eyedrops are no longer needed.

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty is a somewhat newer laser treatment for glaucoma. A little over a decade old, SLT is most commonly recommended when prescription eye drop medications or ALT treatments haven’t lowered eye pressure enough. It can also occasionally be suggested as an initial glaucoma treatment. SLT lowers intraocular pressure by roughly 30% when used as an initial glaucoma therapy.

The type of laser used in SLT treatment works at very low levels with minimal heat absorption. It’s sometimes even referred to as a “cold laser.” Short pulses of low-energy laser light selectively target specific cells while leaving untreated areas of the trabecular meshwork intact. This is much less traumatic than ALT treatment that can scar or even destroy healthy cells in the trabecular meshwork structure.

The objective of SLT surgery is to facilitate fluid drainage from the eye to reduce the intraocular pressure that damages the optic nerve and leads to permanent vision loss.

Just like ALT treatment, SLT is an outpatient procedure performed right at our office. Eye drops, not needles and injections, are used to completely numb your eye prior to an eyelid holder being placed between your eyelids to limit eye movement or blinking for the duration of the procedure.

A special lens, with a high-energy beam of light aimed at it, is held up to your eye. This light reflects onto your eye’s trabecular meshwork where it selectively targets cells containing melanin to increase fluid outflow. This procedure can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes and is typically painless.

Eye pressure is checked prior to discharge. At discharge, it’s recommended that you relax for the rest of the day and take prescribed eye drops if any soreness or swelling inside the eye is present. Follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor intraocular pressure. Activities can typically be resumed within a few days of surgery and prescription eye drops may be discontinued if intraocular pressure is controlled.

The intraocular pressure lowering effects of SLT typically last between 1 to 5 years. The process can be repeated but a second SLT treatment might not have the same effectiveness as the first.
Contact Us Today for Laser Glaucoma Treatment in Hermitage or Greenville PA

If you’d like to learn more about ALT and SLT laser glaucoma treatment in Hermitage or Greenville PA, please call us at 724-347-5665 or email info@valleyeyecenter.com to schedule an appointment.