Glaucoma treatments can be highly effective if used early on in the development of the disease. If caught early enough, there are several glaucoma treatments that can slow or even stop the disease altogether.
Glaucoma treatments generally work by lowering the pressure inside the eye so that no further damage to the optic disc occurs.
There are a number of treatment options available, that are designed to slow down, or stop damage to the eye that is caused by glaucoma. While vision that has already been lost due to glaucoma can not be recovered, these treatments can stop vision loss from getting worse.
Your eye care professional may suggest medicated eye drops, a laser procedure, or a surgical procedure, to treat glaucoma. These treatments all have a common goal; to lower pressure inside of the eye, and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
Blockage of the eye’s drainage channels causes pressure to build, resulting in damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eyes to the brain. It is best to act quickly to prevent additional damage to the optic nerve and avoid future vision loss.
Your treatment plan will depend on the type of glaucoma you have, how far it has advanced, and your general health. Your eye care professional will determine the best approach for you.
Glaucoma eye drops
Initial treatments are generally in the form of eye drops which lower the intraocular pressure (IOP). Most of the time a drop or combination of drops keep the intraocular pressure within the target range. Monitoring IOP levels is often key for this disease.
At Exeter Eye we will recommend the best eye drops for you based on your condition. Glaucoma management with eye drops requires your commitment because they must be taken regularly to be effective.
Laser treatment for glaucoma
If your glaucoma continues to worsen despite the use of eye drops, laser treatment may be necessary. Laser ‘trabeculoplasty’ is a relatively straightforward operation performed under local anaesthetic. Here, a laser is used to remove blockages in the eye’s drainage channels; reducing pressure inside the eye.
The newest laser surgical option for the treatment of open angle glaucoma is called selective laser trabeculoplasty or S.L.T. During the S.L.T. procedure, your doctor directs a low frequency laser beam into the trabecular meshwork, which is the primary drainage region of the eye. The S.L.T. laser selectively treats specific cells, leaving untreated portions of the trabecular meshwork intact. This procedure increases drainage of aqueous fluid out of the eye, lowering pressure inside of the eye. S.L.T. is typically painless or results only in minor discomfort. After the procedure, the patient is typically treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops for a couple days. Most patients are scheduled for a return visit within a few weeks to re-evaluate.
Glaucoma tube shunt
One treatment option for glaucoma is a surgical procedure by which a small device called a shunt is inserted into the trabecular meshwork of the eye. A shunt is a small tube that creates an alternative passageway for the excess fluid to drain, reducing the pressure in the eye. The implant procedure is typically an outpatient surgery, done under local anesthesia.
This solution is extremely effective in treating glaucoma. It consistently reduces pressure, is long lasting, and offers a quick recovery time. Ask your eyecare professional for more information on the glaucoma tube shunt procedure.
Occasionally, glaucoma surgery is used to create a new channel to allow fluid to drain out of the eye. Glaucoma surgery is usually very effective and you may even find that you need little or no further glaucoma medications after surgery.
The most common type of laser surgery performed for open angle glaucoma is called argon laser trabeculoplasty or A.L.T. During the A.L.T. procedure your doctor directs a high frequency laser beam into the trabecular meshwork which is the primary drainage region of the eye. In most cases, 180 degrees of the trabecular meshwork is treated with laser spots, which typically requires about 40 to 80 laser applications. The A.L.T. procedure allows aqueous fluid to drain more easily resulting in lowered pressure in the eye. This procedure is typically painless or results in only minor discomfort. After the procedure the patient is typically treated with anti-inflammatory eye drops for a couple days. Most patients are scheduled for a return visit within a few weeks to re-evaluate.
It is important to remember that while there are many effective glaucoma treatments available, you must take your treatment as advised and have regular check-ups.
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Exeter Eye is a specialist ophthalmic eye clinic treating all eye conditions and offering the very best in patient care and comfort. We always ensure we fully understand your condition and lifestyle before identifying your treatment options and then help you choose the best one for you.