A study published in Lancet Global Health showed laser surgery could significantly improve success rates of treatment for glaucoma patients in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers enrolled 201 patients who live with advanced glaucoma and gave half of them selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and the rest received timolol eye drops.

Treatment was successful in 31% of patients treated with eye drops after one year and 61% for those who received SLT.

Cost was also assessed and despite the initial spend on equipment, hospitals treating high volumes of glaucoma patients could offer SLT as inexpensively as an annual supply of eye drops.

Dr Heiko Philippin, ophthalmologist and study lead, said: ‘These study results are exciting because they show that we can treat glaucoma more successfully with a one-off or occasionally repeated outpatient laser treatment to reduce eye pressure at least for one year, compared to the most commonly used eye drops in lower income regions.’

Researchers highlighted rates of glaucoma in Sub-Saharan Africa were the highest for any world region and were predicted to almost double by 2040.

The study was carried out through a partnership between Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre and the International Centre for Eye Health and funded by CBM and Seeing is Believing.