Glaucoma Laser Surgery Treatment
Glaucoma eye drops can be expensive, and many have unwanted side effects. Laser treatment is often used as an alternative to eye drops, or to lower eye pressure more when the patient’s current eye medications are not lowering the pressure enough.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, or SLT, is a laser treatment that can be applied in a few minutes to lower eye pressure and treat glaucoma. The eye pressure is lowered in about 70% of the patients treated. Many glaucoma patients can reduce their dependency on drops by having this laser applied.
The benefits of SLT include no systemic side effects or compliance issues encountered with eye drops. The SLT treatment is “selective”, targeting only cells with melanin, there is no anatomic thermal damage to the surrounding trabecular meshwork as seen with prior laser techniques such as Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT). Thus, SLT can be repeated in the future if needed.
Patients enjoy the long-term savings by reducing their dependency on expensive eye drops. Most patients find SLT laser to be a quick and painless procedure for glaucoma. SLT is reimbursed by Medicare and most insurances.
Glaucoma Surgical Treatment
Recently there have been technologic advances for better control of the intraocular pressure. Minimally invasive glaucoma surgical procedures, so-called MIGS procedures, involve alterations of the drainage area that are performed inside the eye. There are several options, two of our favorites are the iStent inject W and the XEN gel stent.
The iStent is designed to improve the outflow of fluid to better lower the intraocular pressure and possibly reduce the need for medications. The iStent is the smallest medical device approved by the FDA to date. Typically, two small iStent implants are placed in your eye into the drainage area, called the trabecular meshwork, at the time of cataract surgery.
The XEN Gel Stent is another new MIGS device that can be surgically implant for more advanced glaucoma that is not responding well to glaucoma eye drops.
There are more invasive procedures (e.g., trabeculectomy or Express shunt) that can be done for advanced glaucoma that is not responding to medical, laser or MIGS treatments.
And finally, there is a laser that can be applied at the time of cataract surgery to decease the production of fluid in the eye and lower the eye pressure called Endocyclophotocoagulation, ECP. Dr. Strickler performs ECP on glaucoma patients that elect it at the time of cataract surgery.
You can use your Health Care Savings Account (HSA) or Flex Spending Account to help cover the additional cost of Glaucoma Surgery; this saves you money by using pretax dollars. Financing can often be arranged for those who qualify by Care Credit. Contact us today to learn more about payment options.