Floral Park Doc Finds Useful Glaucoma Treatment

According to a study by a Floral Park doctor, there is a long-lasting treatment for glaucoma.

Dr. Lawrence Jindra, an ophthalmologist and Chief Emeritus of the Division of Ophthalmology at Winthrop University Hospital on Long Island, said a “cold” laser has been proved to be an effective procedure for dealing with glaucoma, eliminating the need for daily eye drops. The study, based on 10-year follow-up data, found that Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty is both safe and has a long-lasting effect on patients.

Dr. Lawrence Jindra examines a patient who had a successful laser treatment for glaucoma.

Dr. Lawrence Jindra examines a patient who had a successful laser treatment for glaucoma.

Jindra’s study found that the SLT was successful for the long-term in lowering pressure inside the eye, the goal in treating glaucoma. Studying almost 2,000 eyes treated with SLT as the primary therapy, the chance of success at 10 years was 90 percent.

His research was presented earlier this year at the Annual Scientific Symposium of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

“The laser treatment takes only a few minutes in the doctor’s office and causes little to no discomfort, nor side effects to speak of,” Jindra said. “It is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans.”

SLT was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2001. Jindra was an early adopter of the new technology, becoming one of the first doctors in the U.S. to acquire the SLT laser. It is often called a “cold laser,” because of its ability to focus on specific pigment-containing cells and lower pressure in the eye caused by a buildup of fluid. The treatment is gentler when compared to the traditional argon laser used in the past.

“SLT has less energy than the average laser used to scan groceries at the supermarket checkout,” Jindra said.

Improved treatments for glaucoma are greatly needed, as it is a leading cause of blindness. It affects one in 200 people under the age of 50 and one in 10 over the age of 80. Individuals can live for years without symptoms, only to realize the problem once irreversible damage has happened.

In the most common type of glaucoma, the drainage system in the eye fails to function properly, leading fluid to build up and increase pressure in the eye. This pressure can eventually damage the optic nerve.

“In this day and age, it’s a tragedy for anyone to experience vision loss or go blind because of glaucoma,” Jindra said. “Regular eye exams, timely diagnosis and early and effective treatment are the best ways to preserve one’s precious sight, especially if someone has risk factors for the disease.”

Although prescription drugs can be used to fight glaucoma, they are not as efficient as SLT and could have noticeable side effects.

“Although prescription eye drops are also effective in controlling glaucoma, patients must remember to use them every day for the rest of their lives,” Jindra added. “The medications may cause side effects and can be costly. Studies show that up to 40 percent of patients do not use the eye drops as prescribed.”

Adults over the age of 65 are recommended to have an eye exam every one or two years, to make sure glaucoma is found before it has time to progress.