SLT Saves Time and Money For Both Physicians and Patients
By Larry Patterson, MD
If there are two good reasons for your practice to offer selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), aside from the procedure’s proven efficacy in treating primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), it’s SLT’s ability to save you and your patients significant time and money.
SLT is a winner for patients economically, over both the short and long term. The procedure is well-covered by insurance, and even patients without insurance can often afford SLT more easily than eye drops. In fact, there’s more consistency in insurance coverage for SLT than there is for drops because SLT costs less over the long term. Most patients requiring SLT are of Medicare age, and the procedure costs a few hundred dollars, whereas some patients pay that much for drops every month.
Efficiency and Compliance Advantages
SLT also wins with respect to clinic efficiency and patient compliance. While both eye drops and SLT patients require follow-up visits, you or your technicians must spend more time with the patient on drops—asking what drops they’re taking, how often they’re taking them, and whether they’re taking them at all. Depending on their level of compliance, that can get involved—costing a practice additional chair time (and money), as well as creating longer or more frequent follow-ups for your patients. With SLT, however, many potential problems that accompany drops simply don’t accompany SLT. There’s little to cover beyond asking, “How are you doing?”
A Win-Win Situation
The bottom line is that the LiGHT study1 and other studies are clear: SLT works as well as—or better than—eye drops to treat POAG. What’s more, SLT saves you and your patients time and money, a win-win for all involved.
1. Gazzard G, Konstantakopoulou E, Garway-Heath D, et al. Laser in glaucoma and ocular hypertension (LiGHT) trial. A multicenter, randomized controlled trial: design and methodology. Br J Ophthalmol. 2018 May;102(5):593-598.
Larry Patterson, MD, co-owns Eye Centers of Tennessee, which has seven locations and over 100 staff, including three ophthalmologists and nine optometrists, with his son, Michael Patterson, DO.