Advanced Laser System at Marin General Hospital
Provides New Treatment Option to People with Glaucoma
MARIN, Calif., January 20, 2009 - Marin General Hospital has installed a laser system that significantly adds to the treatment options for glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease that can cause permanent damage leading to vision loss and blindness without warning or symptoms.
Ophthalmologists on staff at the hospital were trained on January 14 on the Selecta II Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) system manufactured by Lumenis, Ltd., and are scheduling appointments as soon as the end of January – National Glaucoma Month – and beyond.
MGH’s SLT, which cost just over $73,000 to install, is one of only a handful of Selecta II systems in a hospital setting in Northern California and the only one in Marin County, according to Lumenis.
“SLT has revolutionized glaucoma therapy by offering a safe and simple laser treatment that effectively reduces eye pressure for most patients,” said San Rafael ophthalmologist Kathryn Najafi, MD, a glaucoma specialist. A buildup of fluid pressure in the eye is the cause of glaucoma’s damaging effects.
Robert Anderson, M.D., a Greenbrae ophthalmologist added, “The SLT laser gives patients who use eye drops to control their glaucoma a second treatment modality. We’ve used an earlier form of laser treatment in the past, but that treatment can only be done one time. SLT can be repeated about every four to five years, as long as needed.”
For many patients, eye drops – up to four different types of medication several times daily – have been the standard glaucoma treatment. Drops are expensive and their use can lead to potentially adverse side effects. Moreover, remembering to administer them as directed is difficult for some people, especially when multiple types of drops are needed at different times of the day.
The SLT system is an advanced laser system. By targeting specific cells of the eye, the laser reduces blockages in the eye’s natural drainage system, resulting in improved drainage and a reduction in eyeball pressure. SLT is not intended to replace eye drops completely in most patients, but it can make it unnecessary for some patients already using one or two types of drops to add a third or fourth type.
Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease, which, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, the part of the eye that carries visual images to the brain. This can cause gradual vision loss and eventual blindness. Three million Americans have it today but only half know they have it; the others go untreated.
Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent but can usually be prevented with early detection and treatment. Glaucoma management is usually a lifelong process that requires frequent monitoring and constant treatment. Since there is no way to determine if glaucoma is under control based on how a person feels, doctor visits should be on a regular basis.
For more information on the SLT laser procedure or a referral to a Marin ophthalmologist who can assist with glaucoma diagnosis and treatment, call Marin General Hospital’s Surgery Center of Marin Department: (415) 925-7945 for the Clinical Nurse Manager or (415) 925-7909 for the Pre-Registration Nurse.
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