Glaucoma is an eye disease of damage to the optic nerve and leads to permanent vision loss. The damage is most commonly caused by a build up of pressure within the eye, also known as intraocular pressure. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Eyes contain a clear gel-like substance called aqueous humor. In a healthy eye, this substance is slowly drained from the eye at about the same rate that new aqueous humor is produced. This maintains a healthy degree of pressure within the eye. When the eye does not keep this equilibrium of producing and draining aqueous humor, the pressure in the eye becomes too great and causes damage to the optic nerve, leading to permanent vision loss.
Open angle glaucoma
Open angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma and is sometimes referred to as primary open angle glaucoma. It occurs when the eye struggles to drain aqueous humor effectively, leading to an increase in intraocular pressure and damage to the optic nerve. Luckily, open angle glaucoma is treatable and further damage can be prevented if it is diagnosed early on.
Although vision loss from glaucoma cannot be reversed, glaucoma is extremely treatable if it is caught early. Treatments vary from eye drops and medication to various types of eye surgery.
Eye drops are often prescribed as treatment for glaucoma. The early stages of glaucoma can be managed effectively with prescription eye drops that are used at set times and intervals to maintain a healthy intraocular pressure. Patients often feel that it is not a big deal to skip using their eye drops from time to time, but using them according to your doctor’s orders is extremely important to properly manage pressure and prevent damage to the eyes.
If eye drops are not enough to manage the eye’s intraocular pressure, your eye care professional may prescribe medication instead of, or in addition to, the drops. Prescriptions for glaucoma treatment are often meant to reduce the amount of aqueous humor produced in the eye in order to lessen pressure.
Laser treatment for glaucoma
Laser surgery is a popular and effective way to treat glaucoma if eye drops and/or medication are not enough to manage eye pressure. There are various forms of laser surgery that can be performed depending upon the type and severity of the glaucoma.
Open angle glaucoma is generally treated with a trabeculoplasty. This is a delicate laser surgery that alters the eye’s trabecular meshwork, or the drainage system of the eye.
Conventional surgery for glaucoma
If medication, eye drops, and laser surgery are not effective at managing eye pressure, there is also traditional eye surgery for treatment of glaucoma. This surgery, a trabeculectomy, creates a small drainage hole in the sclera itself. This hole in the white portion of the eye allows aqueous humor to drain more easily.
There are also drainage implant surgeries, which place a small tube into the eye to aid in the drainage process.
Glaucoma is very treatable when caught early on, and there are many different treatment options to be explored. Once damage has occurred, however, it is permanent. This is why it is so important to see your eye care professional regularly to monitor your intraocular pressure.