In some patients with glaucoma, medication does not work effectively, so surgery is recommended. Glaucoma surgery can improve the flow of fluid exiting the eye, resulting in reduced eye pressure.
To treat open angle glaucoma, a procedure called laser trabeculoplasty is often used. There are two kinds of trabeculoplasty:
Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT) and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
During the ALT procedure, a laser makes tiny, evenly spaced burns in the trabecular meshwork. The laser does not create new drainage holes, instead it stimulates the drain to function more effectively.
With SLT, a laser is used at different frequencies, allowing it to work at very low levels. SLT treats specific cells and leaves the mesh like drainage canals surrounding the iris intact. SLT may be an alternative for patients that have been treated with traditional laser surgery or with eye drops for lowering intraocular pressure.
Even if laser treatments are successful, many patients may need to continue taking glaucoma medications after the procedure. The lasers generally lower the intraocular pressure about three fourths of the time, but for many patients surgery is not a permanent solution and may require repeat treatments.