Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that may develop in individuals with or without elevated eye pressure. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and worldwide, and it can affect all age groups, including infants, children, adults and the elderly. When the optic nerve is damaged by glaucoma, there is typically a loss of peripheral vision that may go undetected without formal testing and evaluation. This can progress on to functional and complete blindness. Once the vision is lost from glaucoma, it can never be recovered or regenerated. This is why it is important to have a thorough ophthalmological examination to look for early signs of glaucoma.
The cause of glaucoma is not fully known, however, there is a strong association with African or Latino heritage, increased age, and family history. Reducing eye pressure is the only proven way to slow down or stop the progression of the disease. Eye, drops, laser treatments and incisional surgery are utilized in a step-wise fashion to treat eye pressure. Within the disease spectrum of glaucoma, there are subtypes such as open angle glaucoma, narrow angle glaucoma, pseudoexfoliation glaucoma and pigmentary glaucoma. Your doctor at Cataract & Corneal Associates, P.C. will perform a thorough evaluation and tailor a treatment plan specific to your findings.
The laser treatment for glaucoma is called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). This is an FDA approved procedure that has been performed since 2001 to lower eye pressure in patients with open angle glaucoma. SLT has been proven to be as effective as eye drops as a first line intervention in the management of open angle glaucoma.
During the procedure, laser energy is applied to the trabecular meshwork (the drainage system of the eye). The entire procedure takes less than ten minutes and is done under topical anesthesia in a laser suite. There is little to no pain and recovery time is minimal. Patients are able to resume their normal activities immediately after the laser. SLT is a safe and effective treatment of elevated eye pressure in patients with open angle glaucoma. It is a procedure that can be repeated and can replace eye drops in certain patients. It is covered by medical insurance.