Glaucoma: new NICE guidance favours selective laser therapy over eye drops

Updated NICE guidance recommends that newly diagnosed patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension should be offered selective laser therapy

Pixabay/Sasin Tipchai

Newly diagnosed NHS glaucoma and ocular hypertension patients will initially be offered selective laser therapy (SLT) rather than eye drops.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published updated guidance on the diagnosis and management of glaucoma.

NICE highlighted that the change in approach to treating glaucoma would see an increase in the routine use of SLT.

“The increased use of this treatment would reduce the use of eye drops and potentially decrease the need for some patients to undergo cataract or intraocular pressure lowering surgery,” the institute stated.

NICE suggested that cost savings through reduced eye drop use and surgery rates would “more than” cover the costs of introducing SLT more widely.

It is estimated that the annual saving from the change in approach would be around £87,500 in 2021–2022, rising to £400,000 by 2025–2026.

Dr Paul Chrisp, from NICE, highlighted that SLT as a first-line therapy was more cost effective than eye drops.

“The guideline has been developed following a public consultation last year and we are recommending that local healthcare services carrying out laser therapy should be providing their staff with training on the treatment,” he shared.

“It is crucial that healthcare professionals discuss the benefits and risks with patients, family members and carers to agree on a treatment plan for each person,” Chrisp added.