Learn about the latest glaucoma treatments. Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to detect or manage glaucoma.
Vision Loss from Glaucoma Is Irreversible – See Treatment Options Below
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve and is the number one cause of irreversible blindness in the world. While there currently is no cure for glaucoma, treatment can slow its progression. The earlier you catch it, the more likely you can prevent blindness with treatment. Because glaucoma affects your peripheral vision first rather than your central vision, you cannot tell whether you have early glaucoma without a full eye exam. If you wait until you notice vision changes from glaucoma, the disease is already advanced and aggressive treatment such as surgery would be necessary to preserve the remaining small field of vision. Therefore, getting regular eye examinations is the only way to detect early disease and prevent loss of vision before it is too late.
There are several different types of glaucoma, so the best treatment plan for you depends on the specific type that you have. If you already know you have glaucoma, now is the time to take action and meet with a glaucoma specialist to find out which treatment options are best for you to manage this disease. Click the button below to book your first appointment.
If you don’t know if you have glaucoma, the best way to find out is with a standard eye exam that includes dilation. You can schedule an eye exam here.
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Glaucoma Treatment Options
Glaucoma is damage of the optic nerve caused by too much fluid pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma treatments decrease eye pressure to prevent and slow further damage to the optic nerve.
The treatment options include eye drops, pills, laser, and surgery. Often, a combination of these treatments is required to achieve the best pressure control. This list does not include all glaucoma treatment options, but it covers the major options available today.
Glaucoma Eye Drops
Eye drops are often the first treatment of choice. There are many different types of eye drops and they all share the same goal – to reduce the pressure in your eyes and prevent or slow down damage to the optic nerve.
They work by decreasing the production of fluid in the eye, helping drain fluid out of the eye, or a combination of both.
Drops are a common first step in the fight against glaucoma – if the disease has been detected early enough for them to have a good chance of success.
For more advanced cases of glaucoma, drops will not be able to keep the intraocular pressure under control, and you’ll need to undergo one of the other treatment options below to promote proper drainage in your eye.
Glaucoma Laser Treatment
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
This laser treatment is for patients with open angle types of glaucoma – the most common form of glaucoma. It is quickly becoming a first line treatment, replacing drops for some patients.
A laser is used to stimulate the natural internal drainage system of the eye and improve the outflow of fluid. This drainage system, called the trabecular meshwork, gets clogged in patients with glaucoma, leading to pressure buildup, which damages the optic nerve and can reduce vision
Again, this type of treatment only helps patients with certain types of glaucoma . The laser machine itself resembles the examination microscope the doctor uses to look into your eyes.
Nearly all patients find the treatment comfortable and free of pain, and it usually takes just one to two minutes.
SLT treatments can be repeated later if the effect begins to wear off. There is no scarring or cutting, and recovery is very fast.
Endo-Cyclo Photocoagulation (ECP)
This form of glaucoma treatment is only done during cataract surgery, so if you need both procedures done, you might be able to do them at the same time.
This laser treats the ciliary body, which is where your eye’s fluid gets produced, so that there is less fluid pressure in the eye.
Micropulse Transscleral Cyclophotocoagulation
This is another laser treatment that targets the ciliary body, the fluid production center of the eye. In contrast to ECP, micropulse does not require cataract surgery to be done at the same time, as no incision is required. The laser is gently applied over the white part of the eye and takes about 2 minutes to perform.
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI)
This laser treatment is for people with narrow angle, which is the space that the drain of the eye is found. The laser machine itself resembles the examination microscope the doctor uses to look into your eyes. The treatment creates a microscopic opening in the iris to prevent an acute glaucoma attack in the future. This procedure can be done in a matter of seconds.
Glaucoma Tube Shunt
In advanced cases of glaucoma uncontrolled with eye drops and lasers, glaucoma tube shunt surgery is needed to preserve vision. A tube shunt is a tiny straw less than 1 millimeter in diameter that drains fluid into a plate reservoir, effectively lowering the eye pressure.
Microinvasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)
MIGS is a type of procedure that can be combined with cataract surgery to lower eye pressure without creating the large incisions of conventional glaucoma surgery.
It is a great option for patients who have mild to moderate open angle glaucoma and have already tried eye drops or laser treatment. Your surgeon places small stents (such as iStent inject or Xen Gel Stent) to drain fluid, resulting in a lower eye pressure and the reduced need for glaucoma medications.
Kahook Dual Blade Goniotomy
This is a minimally-invasive procedure that can be performed with cataract surgery. Instead of placing a stent, a special blade can be used to remove part of the drain meshwork wall to increase fluid outflow
What Are the Success Rates for Glaucoma Treatment?
The success rates for glaucoma treatment vary widely since so many treatments and forms of glaucoma exist, and because the disease progresses at varying rates. Some people with glaucoma may be taken off eye drops after a very successful glaucoma procedure; others may be required to stay on eye drops to prevent vision loss. Once you know your specific situation, your ophthalmologist can give you more precise information.
What Causes Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve located at the back of your eye. The optic nerve is essential for vision, sending messages about the objects you see to your brain where they can be decoded and translated into actual images. Glaucoma occurs when the natural fluid inside your eye fails to drain properly.
This causes a buildup of pressure that compresses the nerve fibers, resulting in permanent vision loss. The disease occurs most commonly in people with specific risk factors, including:
But the primary risk factor for glaucoma is older age. The National Eye Institute (NEI) estimates that about 3 million people over age 45 have glaucoma, and many don’t even know they have it.
How Can I Prevent Glaucoma?
Glaucoma typically has no symptoms until it has progressed to the point of vision loss. For this reason, the best preventative measure you can take is to have regular dilated eye exams by an eye doctor who is skilled in recognizing the disease in its earliest stages.
You should also pay attention to your risk factors and take whatever steps you can to reduce or eliminate them and decrease the likelihood of developing glaucoma.