The Silent Threat
Glaucoma is called the silent thief due to its lack of symptoms; when it strikes, the resulting loss of vision is irreversible. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States today and is a threat for approximately 2% of the population aged 35 and over.
Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma may prevent loss of vision or blindness. For this reason, a glaucoma screening is recommended every 2 years for people over the age of 35 and persons with a family history of the disease are encouraged to get exams even more often.
In everyday terms, glaucoma is an elevated pressure within the eye. The buildup
of pressure inside the eye subsequently damages the optic nerve, causing vision loss. As the millions of nerve bundles within the optic nerve are damaged, loss of vision will occur, usually in the peripheral areas of vision first. This loss of vision often goes unnoticed. Since glaucoma is typically a painless disease, early diagnosis through routine exams is critical to prevent permanent vision loss.
Glaucoma can often be treated through the use of special prescription eye drops, or oral medication. These medications relieve fluid pressure within the eye.
These treatments have possible side effects.
Laser treatment may be indicated to decrease pressures and preserve vision if medications prove to be ineffective.
There is no cure for this condition. Laser treatment may act to slow the progression of the disease and may be used to seal leaky blood vessels, and destroy abnormal vessels, lessening the scarring that will damage central vision.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) lowers intraocular pressure by using short pulses of low energy laser light to target specific melanin containing cells in the trabecular meshwork, which stimulates an increase in fluid outflow. SLT retains the therapeutic benefit of a standard laser treatment in reducing intraocular pressure, without the thermal damage to the delicate trabecular meshwork structure.
Dr. Joseph Gira is the first in our area (and second in the state of Missouri) to offer this new laser to patients with glaucoma. Treatment with the Lumenis Selecta II is a short, outpatient procedure performed in the physician’s office. Selecta laser can benefit patients who do not desire or are unable to take eye drop medications. SLT may also be used in patients as additive therapy when drops are inadequate and can be performed in patients who have had previous laser or regular eye surgery for glaucoma.