Learning About Laser Trabeculoplasty for Glaucoma

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Cross-section of eyeball, with detail of cornea, trabecular meshwork, iris, and lens

What is laser trabeculoplasty?

Laser trabeculoplasty is a treatment for glaucoma. It uses laser light to create small burns in the trabecular meshwork. This is an area made up of tiny canals where fluid drains from the eye. The burns allow fluid to drain from the front part of the eye. This lowers pressure in the eye.

There are two types: argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). SLT uses a lower-power laser than ALT does.

Why is it done?

Laser trabeculoplasty may be used to treat glaucoma that gets worse even with medicine treatment. It may also help treat older adults who have glaucoma and can't use medicines to treat it.

How is this surgery done?

This treatment can be done at a clinic or a hospital.

The doctor puts drops in your eye to numb it. A special microscope (slit lamp) is used along with a lens (goniolens) that is placed on the eye. They guide the laser beam to the trabecular meshwork. The meshwork is in the eye where your iris meets the cornea. The doctor uses the laser to make small burns in the meshwork.

At the end of the surgery, the doctor puts drops in your eye to help control the eye pressure.

How does it feel?

You will likely feel some pressure, but not pain, in your eye during the surgery.

What can you expect after laser trabeculoplasty?

You may need to be checked by the doctor within 2 hours of the surgery. You will also need to see the doctor for a follow-up exam.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.