Over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it. Approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness in the U.S. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and the first leading cause of preventable blindness.
The optic nerve is the structure which takes the visual information from the eye to be interpreted by the brain. If the optic nerve is not functioning properly, the visual information will not reach the brain. Glaucoma is a disease that results in the death of nerve cells within the optic nerve. As the cells die, there is a large crater-like center to the optic nerve.
Is Treatment Necessary:
Although there are a number of treatment modalities available for glaucoma including drops, pills, lasers (SLT, ALT, Cyclphotocoagulation), and traditional surgery creating a shunt or inserting a drainage device, the decision to treat or watch is not always crystal clear. Glaucoma is generally a slowly progressive disease. Factors such as the status of the other eye, the age, family history, pressure, visual demands, side effects of treatment, risk of progression, corneal thickness, status and appearance of the optic nerve, imaging results including the thickness of the nerve fiber layer, visual field status and stability, comorbidities, and costs must be weighed in the decision to watch or treat. Only an experienced physician in conjunction with the patient can come up with a plan that is acceptable and individualized for the particular patient as no two patients are the same.
The SLT Laser
Our office is pleased to offer treatment Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). The SLT is a cool, “smart” laser that targets the specific, pigmented cells that help control eye pressure. The laser does not damage surrounding tissue and has proven effective at lowering IOP. Treatment with the SLT is done in a few minutes in our office, and the procedure can be repeated if necessary. Ohio Valley Eye Institute is the only practice in Evansville to offer glaucoma treatment with SLT.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is an advanced type of laser treatment to manage patients with open-angle glaucoma. Instead of generally burning tissue as in ALT, SLT selectively stimulates or changes only specific pigmented cells to activate increased fluid drainage. Both SLT and ALT produce equivalent drops in IOP, however the more gentler SLT procedure does not have the associated damage to other tissues and adverse scarring effects. For this reason, where ALT is limited, SLT may potentially be repeated. SLT also has been found to be effective when ALT and other forms of medical treatment have failed.
Benefits of SLT
- SLT results in a biological response that increases aqueous drainage and reduces intraocular pressure without burning tissue.
- No adverse scarring or trabecular meshwork.
- May reduce the need for lifelong use of expensive eye drops and other medications.
- May reduce or eliminate the trouble of always having to take glaucoma medications.