Mechanisms of action and efficacy of argon laser trabeculoplasty and selective laser trabeculoplasty.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Since the 1980s, laser trabeculoplasty has served as an effective way to lower intraocular pressure in patients with primary or secondary open angle glaucomas, both as an initial therapy or in conjunction with hypotensive medications. This manuscript will describe the proposed mechanisms of action of argon laser trabeculoplasty and selective laser trabeculoplasty, as well as review current studies of the therapeutic effect of these interventions. RECENT FINDINGS: The exact mechanisms by which argon laser and selective laser trabeculoplasty lower intraocular pressure are not known. There are several theories, however, and we discuss the three most common ones: the mechanical theory, the cellular (biologic) theory, and the cell division theory. Since both lasers are applied to the same tissue and produce similar results, they most likely produce their effects in comparable ways. We also describe the results of several studies comparing these devices. Most show them to be equally effective at lowering intraocular pressure; however, there are a few circumstances when selective laser trabeculoplasty may be a better option than argon laser trabeculoplasty. SUMMARY: Argon laser and selective laser trabeculoplasty are safe and effective procedures for lowering intraocular pressure. The results of ongoing clinical trials will help further define their role in the management of patients with open angle glaucoma.
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