On March 9th 2019 the Lancet Journal published the results of a study examining whether people newly diagnosed with glaucoma should be treated with laser (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty) or eye drops.
Glaucoma is treated by reducing eye pressure and traditionally most ophthalmologists have recommended eye drops first and reserved laser for patients where the eye drops have been ineffective.
718 patients across the UK took part in the study, with half randomly assigned to laser and half to eye drops. These people were then monitored for 3 years.
The study showed that overall there was no significant difference in the eye pressure or the central and peripheral vision between the groups. Side effects as a result of the laser was uncommon, whereas many people had side effects from the eye drops. More people in the group which had eye drops had eye surgery during the period of the study, both for cataracts and to lower eye pressure.
The study also looked at the costs to the NHS of the two treatments and reported that over the 3 years of the study the costs to the health service were less in the laser group.
The findings of the study are important as they indicate that laser is a safe and effective option for people newly diagnosed with glaucoma.
What treatment is best for the individual patient depends on a variety of factors, and each patient should discuss this with their ophthalmologist. Exeter Eye offer Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty for treatment of glaucoma.