How does laser therapy compare to eye drops for reducing pressure in the eye?

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Mr Anurag Garg
  • Institute: Moorfields Eye Hospital
  • Region: London
  • Start date: March 2017
  • End Date: February 2018
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: Glaucoma


Glaucoma is a common cause of irreversible sight loss due to optic nerve damage. It affects over half a million people in the UK, of whom 1 in 2 are aged 65+.

Sight loss happens over many years in glaucoma but can be slowed or stopped at any stage with treatment. The only risk factor for glaucoma that can be changed is fluid pressure in the eye.

Eye drops are used widely to lower eye pressure and can work well. But the drops are expensive and have many unwanted side effects that can make them unpopular and hard to keep up with. The treatment needs to be monitored closely and requires many visits to hospital.

An alternative to eye drops is a surgical procedure called ‘laser trabeculoplasty’. It involves a single, painless application of a laser to the eye’s fluid drainage system (the trabecular meshwork).

Laser trabeculoplasty is not often used in the UK. But a clinical trial is underway to find out how well it works as a first option for treatment compared to starting with eye drops.

In this project the research team will analyse data from the clinical trial, which is known as LiGHT (for Laser in Glaucoma and ocular HyperTension).

At the end of the project we should know how well laser surgery lowers eye pressure compared to eye drops, how glaucoma progresses in people having either treatment, how well patients tolerate each treatment and be able to compare safety and side effects. The results could provide evidence for recommendations to use laser trabeculoplasty more widely in the UK.