Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT)
What is argon laser trabeculoplasty?
Argon laser trabeculoplasty is a common procedure used to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, usually by high pressure inside the eye. Eye pressure can become too high if you have a problem with the drainage of fluid from your eye. Damage to the optic nerve can cause a loss of vision.
In this procedure, your doctor uses a laser to treat the drainage pathways (the trabecular meshwork) in your eye. The procedure can lower the pressure in your eye and help prevent more damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.
Your eye doctor may recommend this procedure after you have tried treating high pressure in your eye with eye drops or pills. These medicines may not be reducing your eye pressure or they may be causing side effects.
What happens during the procedure?
This procedure is usually done in the doctor’s office. The eye doctor uses eye drops to numb your eye. A special contact lens is put on your eye to help direct the laser’s high-energy beam of light at the trabecular meshwork in your eye. The laser makes 50 to 100 evenly spaced burns. You will see a few brief flashes of light and feel little, if any, discomfort.
The procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes. You may be able to go home soon after it is done.
What happens after the procedure?
Your vision will probably be blurred for the rest of the day, but then it should clear. You will not need to wear an eye patch. If your vision does not clear within a day or if you feel any pain or discomfort, call your doctor.
This procedure is usually successful. Several days or weeks after the procedure, the flow of fluid from your eye should improve. Improved flow usually reduces the pressure inside the eye. Your doctor will want to check you regularly to see if the pressure inside your eye is in fact getting lower. It will take 3 to 6 weeks, and sometimes longer, to learn the results.
After the procedure you may no longer need to take medicine for glaucoma, but most people do still need to take some medicine.
The effects of this treatment may not last. After some time you may need to have the procedure again.
What are the risks?
Although there are some risks with the laser treatment, there are fewer risks than with other types of surgery. Problems may occur that could threaten your vision, but they are rare. If you have any questions about the risks of argon laser treatment, ask Dr. Bellotte during your consult at West Boca Eye Center.