Have you been recently diagnosed with glaucoma? If you have, you may be wondering what treatment options are available to you. Because there’s more than one kind of glaucoma, it’s helpful to know what treatment option may be best for you! Keep reading to learn more about new treatment options for glaucoma.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of eye diseases in which intraocular pressure becomes increased, causing progressive damage to the optic nerve. Think of the optic nerve like a telephone trunk line — it is composed of 1.2 million small fibers and transmits images from the eye to the brain. As the optic nerve is slowly damaged, small blind spots begin to form, leading to loss of vision, or even total blindness. Glaucoma has few noticeable symptoms and causes no pain, so it’s important to see your eye doctor at SightMD regularly!
One of the most common types of glaucoma is known as open-angle glaucoma, also called chronic open angle glaucoma and chronic simple glaucoma. Open-angle accounts for about 90 percent of all glaucoma. It usually affects both eyes, though one eye may be involved earlier or more severely than the other. It typically doesn’t occur until middle age, though sometimes younger individuals are affected. The condition tends to be hereditary but lack of a family history does not rule out glaucoma. Having high pressure in your eyes is not the same as having high blood pressure.
Glaucoma is dangerous because most people do not notice any symptoms until permanent damage has already been done. If it is detected early, treatment can usually prevent irreparable harm. As there are typically no symptoms, the only way to know if you have glaucoma is to be examined by your ophthalmologist.
Treatment for glaucoma starts with medications like eye drops. Using these eye drops helps lower intraocular pressure, which becomes elevated because of glaucoma. Intraocular pressure is decreased by improving how the eye drains or decreasing the amount of fluid that the eye produces. When treating glaucoma, it is important to know that the eye needs some pressure, otherwise it will collapse. Most patients can lower their intraocular pressure using eye drops and experience few side effects. If eye drops are not enough to lower intraocular pressure, other treatment options are available like Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). SLT is a laser treatment that quickly and painlessly lowers eye pressure in glaucoma patients. If SLT is not successful, there are surgical treatment options available as well.
Surgical Treatment Options For Glaucoma
If eye drops and laser treatment are not lowering your intraocular pressure, the next step is surgery. Depending on the severity of your glaucoma, there are different surgery options to consider. The traditional glaucoma surgery is a trabeculectomy. A trabeculectomy creates a small flap on the whites of the eye. A hole is then placed under the newly created flap to help fluid in the eye drain. The flap controls how much fluid escapes and at what rate from the eye. A tube shunt may also be used to help restrict drainage of the fluid.
Another surgical treatment option to consider is MIGS, known as minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. With MIGS, the goal is to lower intraocular pressure, but it’s less invasive than traditional glaucoma surgeries like a trabeculectomy. MIGS uses microscopic-sized equipment and almost minuscule incisions to relieve high intraocular pressure and treat glaucoma. If you have glaucoma and need cataract surgery, we offer iStentⓇ at SightMD. iStentⓇ creates a permanent opening in the eye’s drainage system by improving the flow of fluid and controlling intraocular pressure. iStentⓇ is specifically designed to be placed during cataract surgery, so it is a great option if you have cataracts and need cataract surgery.
Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, various treatment options are making it possible to live without loss of future vision. Have glaucoma or considering your treatment plan? Contact SightMD for a consultation with a doctor at one of our 23 convenient locations!