Accessibility View Close toolbar

Laser Trabeculoplasty

Since their development nearly 50 years ago, lasers have revolutionized many fields, particularly medicine. Lasers allow us to easily and safely perform procedures which were once much more invasive, or not possible at all.

A laser is basically a very focused beam of light energy. The color of light emitted by a laser is determined by the type of material used to produce it. This material can be a gas, a liquid, a solid, or a semiconductor such as a diode. When the material inside the laser tube is energized, it produces light of a very specific wavelength, or color. In ophthalmology, lasers range in wavelength from infrared to ultraviolet. The wavelength determines how the laser will affect different cells and tissues within the body. The ability to control the exact amount of energy delivered by the laser makes it the perfect tool to perform precise, delicate surgery within the eye.

Laser Trabeculoplasty

Trabeculoplasty is a laser procedure performed for the treatment of open angle glaucoma. It is often recommended as an option when intraocular pressure (IOP) is not adequately controlled by medications alone, however can be performed as an initial means of lowering IOP in appropriate patients. The procedure tends to reduce pressure by about 20 to 30 percent, or roughly the equivalent of one glaucoma medication. Trabeculoplasty demonstrates up to 80% success in lowering IOP, depending on certain characteristics of the patient being treated, such as number of glaucoma medications used, amount of pigment within the eye’s drainage canal, and type of glaucoma. The effects of this procedure are not permanent, and tend to wear off after three to five years. Trabeculoplasty can be repeated when the treatment effect begins to fade, often with good pressure-lowering results.

Two forms of trabeculoplasty are commonly performed today. The original procedure, described in 1979, was performed using an argon laser, though currently a solid-state diode laser is often employed. These lasers produce light in the visible spectrum with a blue-green color. This type of treatment is often called “argon laser trabeculoplasty,” or ALT. ALT is a time-tested procedure which has been performed for nearly 30 years. The greatest drawback to ALT is that it can only be performed two to three times on an eye, as further treatments can cause injury.

A newer version of the procedure, known as “selective laser trabeculoplasty,” or SLT, achieves the same goal using a frequency-doubled neodymium:YAG laser, producing light in the blue-green spectrum. Because the amount of energy delivered by this laser is less than that in ALT, the procedure can theoretically be repeated as many times as desired without risk of injury to the eye. However, SLT has not yet been available long enough to know the results of multiply repeated treatments.

Presently, we perform both the ALT and SLT procedures, choosing that which we feel is most appropriate for each patient’s particular condition.

Trabeculplasty will not cure glaucoma. Damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed. The goal of trabeculoplasty, as with all treatments for glaucoma, is to lower intraocular pressure and prevent the further loss of vision. In some cases glaucoma medications may be eliminated, however many patients will need to continue all pre-treatment eye drops to maintain adequately low IOP.

Trabeculoplasty is not 100% effective at lowering intraocular pressure. Results often vary depending upon the type of glaucoma, number and type of eye drops being taken, and other conditions affecting the eye. Your surgeon will discuss your specfic situation and will provide appropriate guidance.

The Laser Trabeculoplasty Procedure

Laser trabeculoplasty is a short, usually painless in-office procedure. Most patients are able to drive to and from their appointment alone. The actual procedure is described below:

Exclusive Offer

New Patients receive 15% OFF Second Pair of Complete Glasses!

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule

Offices Hours


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm






Find us on the map

Main Office and Surgery Center

5599 North Oracle Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85704

Phone: 520-293-6740

Rooney Ranch Office

10425 N. Oracle Rd., Suite 135
Tucson, AZ 85737

Phone: 520-293-6740

Arizona Eye Laser Center

6837 N. Oracle Rd, Suite 15
Tucson, AZ 85704

Phone: 520-293-6740


Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "FABULOUS! They are all kind, professional and know what they are doing!!"
    Nanci M.
  • "Dr. Bakewell explains everything .pros and cons . I would recommend him 💯 %"
    Connie P.
  • "What a great job! I was 20/800 did prk now am 20/15 in just one month.well worth it.thank you very much to all there staff"
    Antonio C.
  • "Excellent surgeons that are caring people too! Great job."
    Rob M.

Featured Articles

Helpful and Informative Resources

  • How to Clean Your Eyeglasses

    Do you know how to clean your eyeglasses correctly? Take a look a few tips that will keep your specs cleaner. ...

    Read More
  • All About Amblyopia

    Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a visual disorder caused by abnormal vision development, often occurring during infancy. Patients with amblyopia have reduced vision in one eye, because it is not working properly in conjunction with the brain. With early detection and proper treatment, loss of ...

    Read More
  • All About Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is a serious disorder that can damage the optic nerves of your eyes if left untreated. The optic nerve carries images from your eyes to your brain. If the nerve is damaged, full or partial vision loss can occur. In some cases, people develop glaucoma because the pressure in their eyes begins ...

    Read More
  • Binocular Vision: Disorders and Treatment

    For many, the term binocular vision conjures images of super powers or the rare ability to spot objects far away, but having binocular vision simply means having two eyes with which to see. Binocular vision does lend creatures with two eyes advantages over those with only one, such as enhanced vision, ...

    Read More
  • Curbing Macular Degeneration

    Macular degeneration represents one of the most significant causes of vision loss in older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.8 million people currently suffer from macular degeneration, with an additional 7.3 million people at risk of developing this ...

    Read More
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: What Is It?

    Diabetic retinopathy refers to several eye problems that are characterized by damage to the light-sensitive retina, caused by excessive blood sugar levels. Almost half of Americans with diabetes suffer from some level of diabetic retinopathy. When glucose levels in the blood are not properly controlled, ...

    Read More
  • Glaucoma Care: What You Need to Know

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, reports the Glaucoma Research Foundation. This common eye condition typically affects older adults, although infants and young adults are also at risk. Fortunately, however, cutting-edge research is improving diagnosis and treatment of this ...

    Read More
  • Strabismus

    Strabismus is the medical term for the misalignment of the eyes. Commonly referred to as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, strabismus may involve either one or both eyes turning inward, outward or even up or down. It is one of the most common vision conditions in young children, affecting somewhere between 2 ...

    Read More
  • What Is Astigmatism?

    Astigmatism is an extremely common eye condition that affects both children and adults. It occurs when there is an imperfection in some part of your cornea, the clear tissue that covers your iris. Light rays pass through the cornea as they travel to the retina, a thin layer of cells at the back of your ...

    Read More
  • What You Need to Know About Dry Eye

    If you have never suffered from dry eye, you might not appreciate how important your tears are to your eye health. Without enough moisture, your eyes can become dry, itchy, red and uncomfortable. Dry eye occurs when you do not make enough tears or the tears you produce are not high quality. The Importance ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign Up to Receive More Articles