Your Glaucoma Treatment Options
We talked about the nature of glaucoma, including the causes and diagnosis of the progressive disease. It’s just as important to understand what it means to be diagnosed with glaucoma and how to live with the disease. Glaucoma is known as the “silent eye disease” because the symptoms of the disease are very subtle and difficult to identify. Glaucoma slowly affects the visual field, and can take away peripheral vision as it progresses. Many times, symptoms of glaucoma aren’t noticeable until it is too late, and permanent vision loss has occurred. For this reason, it is very important to maintain proper control and treatment of glaucoma to prevent irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma treatment options are widespread to address all different stages of the disease, and range from topical eye drops to surgical options to help control the pressure. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, your doctor will work with you to identify the most effective and appropriate treatment option to protect your vision. Read on to learn more about the different treatment options for glaucoma.
Treating Glaucoma with Medicated Eye Drops
Topical eye drops are the most common form of glaucoma treatment and is usually the first treatment option that is attempted. There are several different types of medicated eye drops that each work in different ways to lower the intraocular pressure inside the eye and decrease the potential for damage to the optic nerve. Some drops, such as beta-blockers or carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, lower the intraocular pressure by decreasing the amount of fluid produced inside the eye. Others, such as prostaglandin analogs, work to increase the rate of fluid drainage, and some drops such as alpha-agonists are effective by both decrease fluid production and increasing fluid drainage. If you have recently been diagnosed with early glaucoma, your doctor may initially start you on just a single topical medication, though multiple medications or combination drops can be used to treat more serious cases. Topical glaucoma medications have a range of mild side effects, from stinging upon instillation to slight pigment changes. Despite this, they are a safe and effective treatment method to prevent vision loss from glaucoma.
Minor Surgeries for Glaucoma
A newer treatment option for glaucoma that has recently gained attention in the medical community is minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, or MIGS. The term MIGS encompasses several different methods of low-risk surgical options, including implanting tiny shunts or bypasses in the eye to help improve drainage of intraocular fluid and lower the pressure. These outpatient procedures are performed by specialty ophthalmologists, and in many cases they can be completed at the same time as cataract surgery. Treatment with MIGS may not completely remove the need for medicated eye drops in all cases, but these safe surgical procedures have proven to be effective in preventing vision loss in many cases of glaucoma.
Other Glaucoma Treatment Options: Traditional Laser and Surgical Options
Traditional surgical treatment options for glaucoma include more invasive procedures such as a filter bleb or a large stint, both of which require some degree of reconstruction to improve drainage of intraocular fluid. While these surgeries carry slightly higher risks of complications, they can significantly address intraocular pressure in cases of difficult-to-manage glaucoma. There is also a laser surgery option, known as a trabeculoplasty. A trabeculoplasty uses a high energy laser to reconstruct the drainage structure of the eye and improve drainage of intraocular fluid, resulting in significantly decreased intraocular pressure. For those who are unable or unwilling to consistently put medicated eye drops in their eyes, these traditional surgical options may be required to prevent vision loss from glaucoma.
Our eye doctors and staff at Nittany Eye Care excel in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of glaucoma and glaucoma treatment options. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online. Our optometrists provide the highest quality eye care services in the State College, PA area.
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