Trust offers laser therapy for glaucoma patients

Transscleral laser therapy (TLT) uses a low energy laser beam directed at the part of the eye affected by glaucoma. This reduces the build up of fluid and therefore relieves pressure in the eye that leads to loss of vision in these patients.

In a collaboration with Iridex, who developed the MicroPulse laser used to deliver this therapy, Imperial College Healthcare will be the first NHS Trust to now be permitted to offer TLT for glaucoma patients. This is because it is currently only recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) for use in patients who are part of an approved clinical research project.

Details from each patient who is treated with TLT will be recorded in the new registry and subsequently analysed to better understand outcomes. This allows the Western Eye hospital to offer TLT to more patients who can benefit from it.

Commenting on the opening of the registry, Philip Bloom, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Western Eye hospital who is leading the study said: “Our patients will be the first in the NHS to benefit from this new laser treatment since the NICE guidance was published, and their experiences will help provide the evidence required for it to be rolled out more widely for other NHS patients who could benefit. Our hospital is excited to be able to deliver cutting-edge treatment that could have a significant impact for both our current and future patients.

“By adding another treatment option for glaucoma for our patients, we are providing additional choice for those who are struggling to find a topical medication that relieves their symptoms and may even be able to help others avoid more invasive surgery.”

Currently, glaucoma is treated using eye drops but many patients must try multiple different eye drops before finding one that suits them. They can also cause side effects including eye irritation. In severe cases, surgery to drain the fluid from the eye is required, which can come with a risk of infection.

Laser treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that allows surgeons to drain the fluid without making an incision and some patients no long need eye drops after their procedure.

Research at Imperial College Healthcare is supported by funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), a translational research partnership between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London, which was awarded £95m in 2022 to continue developing new experimental treatments and diagnostics for patients.