What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a common but often misunderstood eye disease. When your eyes experience an unhealthy level of fluid pressure it can lead to vision loss and even blindness if not treated appropriately.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
People with chronic open angle glaucoma may have no symptoms until severe damage has been done to the optic nerve. Glaucoma has been called the silent thief of sight due to this fact.
Common symptoms of glaucoma include poor night vision, poor peripheral vision, seeing everything in a blur, missing spots or bumping into things on the side.
How do eye doctors treat glaucoma?
Glaucoma treatment involves frequent follow ups, often multiple visits a year to your eye doctor, in order to keep the disease under check. At visits made to the eye doctors or glaucoma specialists, the patients are informed about all aspects of care and their glaucoma treatment options.
Only an eye doctor can determine for sure whether you have glaucoma, based on special test results. Glaucoma treatment can range from eye drops, oral medication (pills) to laser treatments and even surgery.
- Medicine – Medication prescribed by glaucoma specialists include eye drops and pills. All medicines may have some side effects when taken together. Your eye doctor or glaucoma specialist will determine which type of treatment is best suited for you based on your medical history, current condition, and any medications that you are on, including other eye conditions that you may have.
Eye drops are the mainstay of glaucoma treatment today because they are well-tolerated, with fewer side effects than pills. Eye drops either cause the patient’s eye(s) to make less fluid or by prompting the eye(s) to drain fluid easier.
There are several classes of eye drops and glaucoma specialists are the best judge of which combination is best for you. The usual number of time eye drops are used is 1 to 4 times daily.
Pills can rapidly reduce eye pressure. Chronic glaucoma is rarely cured by pills, due to side effects, but temporary glaucoma can be.
- Laser Treatments – To lower eye pressure better drainage of fluid is needed and Trabeculoplasty, a laser procedure that is used to change the parts of the fluid, helps drain the eyes. The treatment results do get over as time goes by, but there are certain types of trabeculoplasty that are repeatable.
Lasers are applied in the treatment and prevention of acute glaucoma. The laser cuts or burns a small hole in the colored area of the eye – the iris. This iris then helps open the drainage area of the eye.
- Glaucoma Surgery – When all else fails – eye drops, laser treatments and pills – to control eye pressure, then surgery is the option that is left. Surgery removes the affected part and creates a new drainage channel, otherwise a drainage implant is inserted as another option to help lower eye pressure.
Post-surgery, pressure checks are made to ensure that the eye remains healthy. There are risks, such as infection and spontaneous leak of fluid as the walls of the new drainage area are thin.
Once started, glaucoma treatment should be considered a lifelong process, that can fight the progression of the disease.