Dr. Stewart Shofner Successfully Treats Glaucoma Patients Using a Procedure Known as Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center in Nashville, TN was one of the first surgeons in the United States to successfully treat glaucoma by performing eye surgery using the iStent, the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA. Dr. Shofner is also one of the first surgeons to recognize the benefits of using a procedure known as Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) to successfully treat patients with glaucoma. Dr. Shofner and his colleagues now recognize that this procedure is a primary treatment for many patients who find it difficult and expensive to administer routine eye drops.
Glaucoma is a condition where the eye's natural drainage system becomes clogged and pressure builds up dangerously in the eye. It is a complicated disease in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. Prevent Blindness America reported it is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it. "A comprehensive eye exam and detecting glaucoma early is key in preventing permanent vision loss," say Dr. Shofner.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Different treatment options may be considered depending on the type of glaucoma. Topical eye medications (eye drops) or oral medications (pills) can be very effective at controlling intraocular pressure (IOP)to prevent eye damage for many patients. However, some patients may require surgery to reduce their intraocular pressure to a safe level by improving the outflow or drainage of fluids. After surgery, a patient's dependency on expensive eye drops to control glaucoma is either reduced significantly or even eliminated. Others may need to continue with eye drops even after having glaucoma surgery.
The selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) procedure increases outflow of internal eye fluid. The laser, performed by an ophthalmologist, is used to create tiny holes in the filtration angle of the eye, where the cornea and iris meet. The SLT creates minimal heat damage to adjacent tissue, which generally means the procedure can be repeated safely.
"The SLT procedure might be considered a primary treatment for patients who find it difficult to administer their eye drops routinely," says Dr. Shofner. Recent studies indicate and Dr. Shofner agrees that this laser procedure may be equally as effective as glaucoma eye drops for lowering internal eye pressure.
Other options for glaucoma treatments include shunts and stents, which are small devices that are surgically inserted into the eye during a trabeculectomy to increase outflow of intraocular fluid and reduce high eye pressure. The iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass (iStent) is made of surgical-grade titanium and is safely implanted in the internal eye area to re-establish a normal flow of fluids within the eye. Stents used in the medical industry are tubes inserted into the human body to improve blood flow or provide easy access for medications or even surgery. The iStent creates a new opening, which eliminates any blockage that hinders the eye's natural fluid outflow. As with the SLT procedure, the iStent may be a permanent way to reduce or even eliminate a glaucoma patient's reliance on medication.
Glaucoma treatments (laser and non-laser )are designed to decrease the production of intraocular fluid or increase the outflow (drainage) of this same fluid. Treatment is necessary to reduce or stabilize one's intraocular pressure in order to prevent optic nerve damage.
Routine eye exams to determine early diagnosis are the best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. People that are high risk for developing glaucoma due to elevated intraocular pressure, family history, ethnic background, age or optic nerve appearance should meet with a qualified eye doctor or ophthalmologist more frequently.
About Shofner Vision Center
Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center located in the heart of downtown Nashville, TN, specializes in LASIK and cataract vision correction surgery and treats ocular diseases. Dr. Shofner has performed over 10,000 cataract surgeries and over 30,000 LASIK/PRK surgeries in Nashville/Middle Tennessee area. Dr. Shofner recommends anyone experiencing glaucoma symptoms or vision impairment should contact their local ophthalmologist or contact Shofner Vision Center for a "No Fear - No Pressure" exam to determine which vision correction procedure is most appropriate.