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How effective is laser surgery for glaucoma?

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Quick Answer

Argon laser trabeculoplasty, the most common type of laser surgery for open-angle glaucoma, successfully lowers eye pressure in approximately 75 percent of patients, as confirmed by The Glaucoma Foundation. Alternative laser surgeries include selective laser trabeculoplasty, laser peripheral iridotomy and cycloablation.

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A trabeculoplasty takes 10 to 15 minutes to perform and is popular as an intermediate treatment option between medication and surgery, according to The Glaucoma Foundation. The painless procedure involves focusing a laser beam on the eye's drainage system to allow fluid to more easily drain. Patients can return home and resume their daily activities after the surgery, but the effects may not become apparent until several weeks later. Patients may be able to stop taking some of their glaucoma medications at this time. Side effects of laser surgery are minimal, leading many physicians to recommend it even before eye drops.

Although argon laser trabeculoplasty may only be performed two to three times over a patient's lifetime, selective laser trabeculoplasty involves lower energy levels and is possibly safer to repeat than other laser treatments, as stated by The Glaucoma Foundation. Laser peripheral iridotomy makes an opening through the iris to treat angle-closure glaucoma, and cycloablation is a procedure that destroys part of the ciliary body and is reserved for eyes with elevated IOP or when other laser procedures are unsuccessful.

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