Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. It occurs when the pressure inside the eye rises, damaging the optic nerve and causing vision loss. The condition often develops over many years without causing pain or other noticeable symptoms – so you may not experience vision loss until the disease has progressed. Symptoms that you could be developing glaucoma include blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, halo effects around lights, and painful or reddened eyes. People at high risk include those who are over the age of 40, diabetic, near-sighted, African-American, or who have a family history of glaucoma.
To detect glaucoma, your physician will test your visual acuity and visual field as well as the pressure in your eye. Regular eye exams help to monitor the changes in your eyesight and to determine whether you may develop glaucoma. Once diagnosed, glaucoma can be controlled. Treatments to lower pressure in the eye include non-surgical methods such as prescription eye drops and medications, laser therapy, and surgery.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is an advanced laser system that improves the flow of fluid in the eye, lowering eye pressure for patients with glaucoma. Using a focused, narrow wavelength, SLT targets specific cells of the eye — those containing melanin, a natural pigment — leaving surrounding cells intact. The procedure is usually painless and has virtually no side effects, although patients are given anti-inflammatory eye drops before and after treatment. Eye pressure may drop as quickly as a day after the procedure. In some studies, the SLT Laser has been shown as effective as eye drops in controlling glaucoma pressure. In some cases, patients have been able to reduce or even eliminate the number of eyedrops needed to control their glaucoma pressure.
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