What is Glaucoma Laser Treatment?
Our board-certified surgeons at Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA provide several laser treatments that help control glaucoma. Using the advanced Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) and laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) technology, our surgeons can use various treatments that work best for your type of glaucoma. Please call either of our offices, located in West Hills and Encino, to discover if one of our glaucoma laser treatments is right for you.
WHO NEEDS LASER TREATMENT?
At Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley, our surgeons recognize that each patient is unique, requiring an individualized treatment plan. Based on your type of glaucoma and the severity of your condition, we will assess what laser type or technique works best for you. Over the past decade, laser treatments have moved to the forefront in combating glaucoma. In some patients, laser treatments are recommended to help supplement a medication regimen. In other patients, laser treatments may be recommended as first-line therapy.
Specific lasers treat different parts of your eye to help with various conditions. To identify which laser treatment is best for you, our ophthalmologists will complete a series of diagnostic tests and a comprehensive eye exam. We can detect these issues in regular appointments so it is important to undergo comprehensive eye exams each year. Additionally, if you have received a glaucoma diagnosis, we will start treatment as soon as possible to prevent any further symptoms.
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What are the benefits of Glaucoma Laser Treatment?
- Non-invasive: Laser trabeculoplasty is a non-surgical procedure that does not require any incisions or injections. It is performed in an outpatient setting, and patients can typically go home the same day.
- Long-lasting effects: In many cases, the beneficial effects of laser trabeculoplasty can last for several years. The treatment can improve the drainage of fluid from the eye, which helps to lower the intraocular pressure and maintain it at a manageable level.
- Improved quality of life: By reducing intraocular pressure, laser trabeculoplasty can slow down or halt the progression of glaucoma. This can help preserve the remaining vision and improve the overall quality of life for individuals living with glaucoma.
HOW IS LASER TREATMENT DONE?
At Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley, our expert ophthalmologists use state-of-the-art laser technology to treat different glaucoma types. We can complete innovative laser treatments that work best for your condition, including:
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) – A laser peripheral iridotomy is a surgical treatment that addresses symptoms associated with closed-angle glaucoma or helps patients who could be at risk for this condition. During this treatment, a tiny micro-passageway is created within the peripheral iris.
- Before an iridotomy, your ophthalmologist may place some different types of drops in your eye. The first drop, pilocarpine, will make your pupil smaller. By doing this, it is easier for the laser to penetrate and make a hole in your iris. This medication may temporarily cause blurred vision (especially at night) and also may give you a mild headache.
- Another type of eye drop may be used within a few hours of your laser treatment to help prevent an increase in pressure after the laser. Additional drops may be used to help reduce inflammation.
- A topical anesthetic eye drop is all that is required to perform a laser iridotomy. With the eye drop, the laser surgery should be painless. You may see a bright light, like a photographer's flash from a close distance. Also, you may feel a pinch-like sensation.
- Your doctor will next place a special contact lens on your eye to focus the laser light upon the iris. This lens keeps your eyelids separated so that you do not blink during the treatment. This also reduces small eye movements so that you do not have to worry about your eye moving during the treatment. To protect the eye from being scratched by the contact lens, special jelly is placed on its surface. This jelly may remain on your eye for about 30 minutes, leading to blurred vision or a feeling of heaviness.
- After treatment, your doctor will check your eye pressure and insure that it has not increased.
- When it is safe, you will be sent home and may be asked to use eye drops. Your ophthalmologist will explain their use and when you need to be examined again.
- In general, there are no restrictions in activity following the laser treatment. You can return to your normal daily routine immediately. It is advisable to have someone drive you home from your doctor's office. You can expect some redness of the eye, a sensitivity to light, and a scratchy sensation. All of these might last for a period of days. You also might expect a small headache later that day or night.
- The main risks of a laser iridotomy are that your iris might be difficult to penetrate, requiring more than one treatment session. The other risk, which is extremely rare, is that the hole in your iris will close. In addition, you may still require medications, or other treatments to keep your eye pressure sufficiently low.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) – A Selective Laser Trabeculoplsty is an outpatient advanced laser system that targets specific melanin containing cells within the eye. Using a special wavelength and energy, the SLT targets these specific cells, leaving the surrounding tissue intact, improving the flow of fluid in the eye and thereby lowering your eye pressure.
- The procedure itself is painless and only takes a few minutes to perform.
- Prior to the procedure, a topical anesthetic drop is placed on the eye followed by a contact lens
- The laser applications are made through a microscope that looks similar to the one your doctor examines your eye with in the office. Once the laser is completed, you will have to wait for a period of time to have your eye pressure
Following your laser glaucoma treatment, our physicians will monitor you to ensure no irregularities arise. Before you leave, our team will schedule future follow-up visits. It is very important to attend these appointments so we can make sure your eye(s) is healing correctly. Additionally, if you start to notice any severe eye pain or inflammation, please call us as soon as possible.
Glaucoma laser treatment FAQs
How do you diagnose glaucoma?
The most direct way to diagnose glaucoma is to schedule an appointment with OAV. We can examine your eyes and measure your intraocular pressure. In addition, we'll check for signs of glaucoma in your optic nerve and determine whether you have any risk factors that could make you more likely to get the condition.
What if glaucoma goes untreated?
Vision loss caused by glaucoma can be permanent and is often irreversible. This is why catching glaucoma in the early stages is so important. Learn the early warning signs of glaucoma and remember to see your eye doctor regularly so you can get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
How can I prepare for glaucoma laser treatment?
To prepare for a laser procedure, please let us know if you have any allergies or medical conditions, so we can determine how to move forward safely. We may also ask you to stop taking certain medications prior to the procedure. Our practitioners in Los Angeles, CA, also provide regular follow-up exams after treatment to make sure that your eye pressure is well controlled.
How soon can I return to my routine after my laser glaucoma treatment?
Most patients are able to get back to their routine within a day or two after laser glaucoma treatment, though we recommend taking some time off from any heavy lifting or strenuous activity. It’s important to follow our team’s specific advice, as recovery time can vary based on individual circumstances and the type of laser treatment performed.
Will I need to continue taking glaucoma medications after laser treatment?
In many cases, patients may still need to continue taking glaucoma medications after laser treatment. The necessity and type of medication will depend on the individual's response to the treatment and the progression of the glaucoma. Regular follow-up appointments are crucial to monitor eye pressure and adjust medication accordingly.
Is there anyone who should not undergo laser treatment for glaucoma?
Laser treatment for glaucoma may not be suitable for all patients. Those with certain types of glaucoma, like angle-closure glaucoma in its late stages, or individuals with specific eye conditions, such as corneal clouding or severe inflammation, might not be ideal candidates. A thorough examination by an ophthalmologist is necessary to determine the suitability of laser treatment for each individual.
REGAIN YOUR EYE HEALTH
Decreasing eye pressure is the best and most common way to treat and manage glaucoma. At Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA, our board-certified eye surgeons provide multiple laser-assisted procedures that can help reduce the symptoms caused by glaucoma. Please contact one of our offices in Encino or West Hills if you notice any sudden changes in your vision or any irregularities. Because glaucoma is one of the main reasons for blindness in patients at any age, it’s very important to receive treatment as quickly as possible.
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