Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)

What is SLT?

Also known as Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, SLT is a simple, yet highly effective laser procedure that reduces the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma. It is performed in your ophthalmologist’s office and typically takes no more than five minutes.

How does it work?

SLT uses short pulses of low-energy light to target the melanin, or pigment, in specific cells of the affected eye. In response, the body’s natural healing mechanisms go to work to rebuild these cells. This rebuilding process improves drainage and lowers intraocular pressure. The surrounding, non-pigmented cells – as well as the rest of the eye structure – are untouched and undamaged.

Does SLT hurt?

No. SLT is painless, and there are no side effects to worry about.

What happens during the procedure?

Prior to treatment, eye drops are administered to prepare the eye and provide mild anesthesia. Then, gentle pulses of light are delivered through a specially designed microscope. The entire process takes just a few minutes. When it’s complete, your physician may treat your eye with anti-inflammatory eye drops.

One to three days after the procedure, your intraocular pressure should drop significantly. And of course, your physician will want to re-check the treated eye during periodic follow-up visits.

How often can I have SLT done?

SLT is gentle, non-thermal, and non-invasive – which allows the procedure to be repeated, if necessary. In comparison, repeat treatments of previous approaches in laser therapy were either extremely limited or not possible.

Who will benefit from SLT?

If you fit into any of the following categories, you’re a good candidate for SLT:

  • If you have primary open-angle, pseudoexfoliation, pigmentary or juvenile glaucoma. (If you’re not sure, ask your ophthalmologist.)
  • If you are intolerant of glaucoma medications or have difficulty taking them as prescribed.
  • If you are currently undergoing glaucoma drug therapy and wish to combine it with SLT.
  • If it is difficult for you to commit to regular follow-up treatments, due to finances, lack of transportation, or other limitations.
  • If you have a history of failed ALT (argon laser trabeculoplasty) treatments.

What if SLT doesn’t work for me?

SLT lowers intraocular pressure by an average of 25 percent in 75 to 85 percent of patients treated. For those that do not respond, other forms of treatment, including traditional drug therapy, can still be highly effective.