Glaucoma is known as the silent thief of sight due to its ability to damage your vision without showing many apparent symptoms. Through routine eye exams, your eye doctor can diagnose and treat glaucoma before it can permanently damage your eyesight.
Keep reading to find out more about the best glaucoma treatment available!
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that occurs when your eye pressure is consistently higher than normal. Eye pressure, or intraocular pressure, can cause damage to the optic nerve when its continuously at elevated levels.
The optic nerve passes information from the retina to the brain, which allows you to see images. The continual pressure on the optic nerve can cause permanent vision loss.
Your eye pressure level is determined by the amount of fluid in your eye. The fluid, called aqueous humor, is constantly being created inside your eye and draining from your eye.
When the drainage network becomes slowed or completely blocked, the resultant rise in pressure can lead to glaucoma. High pressure can also happen when your eye is creating too much fluid, too fast.
Glaucoma is more common in older adults. It progresses gradually, meaning many people are often unaware they have it in its early stages.
The slow progression of glaucoma often causes damage to your peripheral vision first, which is the vision you see out of the corner of your eye. Most people do not usually notice this change in their peripheral vision since the change is often very slow.
It is essential to get regular eye exams to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. Your eye doctor can detect glaucoma and begin treatment before it can cause such extensive damage to your vision.
Is There More Than One Type of Glaucoma?
There are several different types of glaucoma. The most common types of glaucoma are chronic open-angle glaucoma, narrow-angle glaucoma, and angle-closure glaucoma.
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma often do not appear until the later stages, usually beginning with changes in peripheral vision. Some people may notice blank spots arise in their field of vision.
However, the vision changes associated with open-angle glaucoma often go unnoticed. Without treatment, permanent damage can occur.
Due to its sudden onset and the likeliness of permanent vision damage, angle-closure glaucoma is often considered a medical emergency. Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the angle of the eye becomes closed off, restricting the outflow of fluid.
The angle of the eye is an area that fluid has to move through before it reaches the drainage structure and exits the eye. In angle-closure glaucoma, this angle can completely block the drainage structure.
In narrow-angle glaucoma, the angle of the eye is narrow, which slows the rate fluid can flow out of the eye but does not completely block it. Although treatment is necessary, narrow-angle glaucoma is not considered a medical emergency unless it becomes angle-closure glaucoma.
Angle-closure glaucoma can occur due to movement or dilation of the pupil. People may experience eye pain, headache, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, and rainbow halos around lights during angle-closure glaucoma.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Your eye doctor will want to know if you have a family history of glaucoma, as it can be genetic.
Treatment for Glaucoma
There are a variety of effective treatments available for glaucoma. Treatment methods can range from medication to surgery.
Each treatment method aims to lower intraocular pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
Prescription Eye Drops
Many eye doctors prescribe eye drops as the first method of treatment.
Glaucoma prescription eye drops work to reduce eye pressure by either slowing fluid creation or increasing the outflow.
There are also laser treatment options available to help improve the outflow of fluid. Laser procedures are often quick and completed in the office.
If you have angle-closure glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, your eye doctor may recommend a laser procedure called an iridotomy. During an iridotomy, your eye doctor uses a laser to make a tiny hole in the iris.
The tiny hole allows the fluid to leave the eye faster and lowers eye pressure. Recovery is minimal, and you can leave the same day.
A trabeculoplasty is another laser procedure eye doctors perform on those with open-angle glaucoma. During a trabeculoplasty, your eye doctor will use a laser to remove a portion of the meshwork that the fluid must flow through to exit the eye.
Removing a part of this meshwork can allow the fluid to leave the eye faster.
Your eye doctor may recommend glaucoma surgery if other treatment methods do not adequately lower your eye pressure. A trabeculectomy is a traditional surgical method to treat open-angle glaucoma, and the most common.
During a trabeculectomy, your eye doctor creates a small flap in the white part of the eye. Then, they make a small reservoir behind the flap to house the fluid that drains from your eye.
Trabeculectomy can also help with the outflow of fluid, thus lowering the pressure. This procedure is outpatient and has a very high success rate.
If you have a cataract and glaucoma, your eye doctor may be able to treat your glaucoma during cataract surgery with an iStent. An iStent is a tiny implant that acts as a bypass for the fluid to flow out of the eye.
If you are a candidate, your eye doctor can insert the iStent during cataract surgery, so you don’t have to undergo two separate procedures.
Deciding Which Treatment Is Best for You
The many treatment options available may have you questioning which is the best for you. The best way to figure out which treatment method best fits you is to visit your eye doctor.
Your eye doctor will consider various factors to help determine the best way to treat your glaucoma and preserve your vision.
Are you looking for the best way to treat your glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at Takle Eye Group in Griffin, GA, today!