SCEI Logo Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital Logo (CHA)

Glaucoma laser surgery is usually the next step if you can’t use eye drops, or the glaucoma medication prescribed by your glaucoma specialist doesn’t lower your inner eye pressure to a safe level.

Glaucoma surgeons often use a laser to treat eye pressure symptoms. It can be done during a visit to a laser-equipped eye clinic. To decrease inner eye pressure, the surgeon uses a laser beam to make a tiny hole in your eye to allow fluid to drain. This procedure is called a selective laser trabeculoplasty (tra-BEK-you-low-plas-tee) or SLT.

What to Expect During a Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty

First, your care team at the eye clinic puts drops in your eye to numb it. Then the surgeon places a special lens on your eye and aims the laser to where treatment is needed. The laser flashes with green or red light for just a few moments.

Most people feel little or no pain when the laser is used. Some say it feels like a pinprick. Afterwards, your eye may feel sore or dry, and your vision may be blurry for a short time. Your doctor will give you eyedrops that lower pain and help healing.

You can go home after the procedure. Be sure to have someone with you to drive or guide you. Take it easy the next day, and then you can return to normal activity.

Your surgeon will schedule a follow up appointment to see if your eye pressure has decreased enough. Be sure to return for the appointment because glaucoma management through medication and procedures is the only way to prevent more damage and save your eyesight.

During glaucoma management, your treatment may include changing your glaucoma medications, having additional laser surgery, or having glaucoma surgery. A variety of advanced glaucoma treatments also have been approved or are in testing. You are most likely to find them at a glaucoma center of excellence.

Glaucoma at a Glance: Types of Glaucoma Laser Surgery

Your glaucoma surgeon may recommend glaucoma laser surgery depending on the type of glaucoma you have and how much it is damaging your vision.

Type of Glaucoma Laser Surgery What Is Done
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) Low-power laser light pulses are sent into the eye to create an opening in the eye to treat open-angle glaucoma.
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) Laser light pulses are sent into the eye to create an opening at the edge of the iris, usually to treat closed-angle glaucoma.
Endoscopic Laser Surgery Endoscopic Laser Surgery is used to treat both open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma.

The goal of this series of weekly blogs is to help you feel informed and confident, wherever you are in learning about glaucoma.

Visit weekly to learn more.

Please provide feedback, suggested topics, or questions about glaucoma in the Contact Us section below. Thank you.