How is Glaucoma Treated?

The most important part of glaucoma treatment is you, the patient. You need to become aware and learn about glaucoma and how it is treated. The more information you know the more successful the treatment.

What is increased intraocular pressure?

The loss of vision from open-angle glaucoma seems to be connected to the painless increase in fluid pressure inside the eye. The pressure is called intraocular pressure (IOP) by health professionals. Many diseases are connected with increased eye pressure, but the exact cause is still not known. It is important to know other types of glaucoma exist. These other types may be present even though the eye pressure is normal. Be sure to ask your doctor questions during the exam.

The optic nerve delivers visual messages to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve from increased IOP can result in the loss of vision. Studies have shown that control of high IOP helps slow or stop further loss of vision. The main goal of glaucoma treatment is to control IOP. Treatments such as prescription eye drops, pills, and surgery may help control increased IOP.

How does treatment work?

Glaucoma treatments focus on lowering IOP. The eye produces a fluid called aqueous humor that bathes and nourishes the structures inside the eye. This fluid then flows out of the eye through a drainage system. If the fluid system stays balanced, the pressure in the eye stays normal. If the drain becomes blocked, the fluid cannot leave the eye, and IOP increases.

Prescription medicines, usually in the form of eye drops, that can lower IOP are used in the treatment of open-angle glaucoma. Lowering IOP is the main goal of treatment the glaucoma. Studies suggest that lowering IOP can slow further vision loss.

Take medication as prescribed and keep appointments to monitor your IOP. Successful treatment of glaucoma depends on you, your doctor, and your treatment plan.

What laser and surgical options are available?

If medication is not effective, cannot be managed or not taken as directed, laser or traditional surgery may be suggested. Laser and surgical procedures are intended to improve the fluid drainage in the eye. Laser surgery or trabeculoplasty is quite painless and has lowered IOP in more than three-quarters of cases. It may also be done as an outpatient procedure. In some cases eye drops or a repeated laser procedure may be required to control IOP.

If both medical and laser treatments do not control the increased pressure, an alternative drain passage may be created by surgery (trabeculoplasty). This would allow the aqueous humor to drain from the eye and reduce the pressure. More than three-quarters of the patients treated surgically have managed to control IOP. Although the success rate of surgery is good, a person’s vision may be blurred for several weeks after surgery. In most cases, normal eye sight returns within three months.

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