Laser trabeculoplasty is a surgery to treat glaucoma by improving the eye's natural drainage system. In open-angle glaucoma, aqueous humor does not flow efficiently through the eye's sponge-like drainage system (known as the trabecular meshwork). When this liquid fails to drain properly, pressure builds within the eye. This pressure inside the eye may damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. Laser trabeculoplasty is one procedure that may help lower intraocular pressure.
A laser makes tiny, evenly spaced burns in the trabecular meshwork, the area of the eye responsible for draining the aqueous humor. The laser does not create new drainage holes but appears to stimulate the drain to function more effectively.
There is usually little pain associated with this laser procedure. Patients often continue taking glaucoma medications after laser trabeculoplasty. Laser trabeculoplasty effectively lowers eye pressure 75 percent of the time, but it may not be a permanent solution. Nearly half of the people who receive laser trabeculoplasty have increased eye pressure again after five years. For people who have had a successful laser trabeculoplasty, it may be repeated with a lesser pressure-lowering effect.