A team from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL have found that laser-based treatment is more successful and cost-effective than standard treatments on newly diagnosed cases of glaucoma.
The three-year trial, which is the largest ever of its kind, saw 718 patients newly-diagnosed with glaucoma or ocular hypertension (an increase in pressure in the eye without causing damage to the optic nerve) assigned one of two treatment pathways.
One pathway was the current standard treatment of administering eye drops designed to lower intraocular pressure. The other involved a treatment called Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), an extremely quick procedure which lowers intraocular pressure by using lasers to make it easier for fluid to leave the eye.
The results, published in the The Lancet, showed that patients who received SLT were more regularly at the target intraocular pressure. There was less need for treatment to be escalated and there was a reduced need for both glaucoma surgery and cataract extractions compared to patients who received the eye drops.
The results could potentially improve the way glaucoma is treated across the world and could save the NHS up to £1.5million per year in direct treatment costs for newly diagnosed patients. If the treatment proves to be as effective with previously diagnosed patients, cost savings could be up to £250million per year.
The trial, which was predominantly funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health and Technology Assessment Programme (NIHR HTA), was held across the NIHR Biomedical Research Facility (BRC) at Moorfields and UCL and with the support of the PRIMENT clinical trials unit at UCL.