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How is laser trabeculoplasty done?

The procedure is done in an ophthalmologist’s office and usually takes less than 10 minutes. First, anesthetic drugs are used to numb the eye. Additional drops are given to control eye pressure. While you are seated at the examining microscope, the laser energy is then focused through a lens to treat the drainage channel. You will experience a flash of light with each laser application. There is usually no discomfort with your treatment. After the procedure your eye pressure is monitored. Your doctor may want to monitor your eye pressure for one to two hours. Very rarely, an elevation in eye pressure can occur and require additional treatment. Anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed for several days after the procedure.

Vision is blurry immediately after treatment but clears within hours. Most people return to full normal activities the day after laser surgery. It will take several weeks for the laser treatment to take full effect. Your doctor will want to check your eye pressure one to two months after the procedure. If the eye pressure is not lower at the first visit, some additional effect can be gained up to three months after treatment. If lower eye pressure is needed your Eye M.D. will help you decide whether additional laser treatment, medication or surgery is required.

Laser surgery can decrease the amount of medication you may need and is often recommended when you have difficulty inserting eyedrops or are not using eyedrops on a regular basis. Trabeculoplasty can also be used in addition to taking medicines or as a first line of treatment.

Laura C. Fine, MD
Ophthalmology
The laser trabeculoplasty procedure is done in an ophthalmologist’s office and usually takes less than 10 minutes. Anesthetic drops are used to numb the eye and additional drops are used to control eye pressure. A slit-lamp microscope and a special contact lens allow the ophthalmologist to get a detailed view of the angle where the iris (colored part of the eye), cornea (curved, transparent dome of tissue at the front of the eye), and sclera (white of the eye) meet, and to focus the laser on this tissue.

During the procedure, you may see flashes of green or red light as the doctor focuses and fires the laser; typically there is no pain. After the procedure, the doctor monitors the pressure in your eye before allowing you to go home. Prescription eye drops help reduce inflammation during your recovery. You will also use your regular glaucoma medicines and schedule several follow-up visits so the doctor can monitor your pressure. You may experience blurred vision and sensitivity to light for a day or two after the operation, but you should not feel any discomfort.

While trabeculoplasty is often helpful, the benefits may not be permanent. As the treatment effect wanes, within two to three years, you may need more medicines additional laser, surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.