Glaucoma affects nearly 3 million individuals in the United States and, when left untreated, can lead to irreversible blindness. While researchers are still working to find a cure for glaucoma, there are a few known practices that can slow glaucoma down and reduce or prevent its side effects. The goal of glaucoma treatments is to lower the pressure in a patient’s eyes to a safe level. (Learn more about glaucoma.)
Your Role in Glaucoma Treatment
Glaucoma is a silent disease. It doesn’t typically cause pain, and it doesn’t affect vision until the disease is advanced. Because individuals with glaucoma don’t usually experience symptoms, especially in the early stages of glaucoma, it is not uncommon for them to skip their drops and/or their follow-up appointments.
If you have glaucoma, no matter what stage, the best thing you can do is to use your medication as prescribed, even when you don’t notice any symptoms of glaucoma. (If you wait until you see symptoms to take your medication, it may be too late.) Consistency with your medications and adherence to your scheduled follow-ups are the best ways to prevent disease progression and the need for surgery.
A variety of eye drops can treat glaucoma, so consult with your ophthalmologist about which are best for you. Eye drops used to treat glaucoma have different functions; some relax your eye muscles to reduce pressure buildup, others reduce the amount of aqueous humor that your eyes produce, and still others increase the amount of aqueous humor that drains from the eyes.
Depending on the severity of glaucoma, ophthalmologists may prescribe multiple eye drops with different mechanisms of action to a patient.
Occasionally, an ophthalmologist will prescribe pills instead of or in addition to eye drops to treat glaucoma. Pills are typically an option when patients need medication to reduce the amount of aqueous humor their eyes are producing.
If the prescribed eye drops or pills aren’t slowing down glaucoma progression, your ophthalmologist may recommend a laser procedure. There is a wide variety of laser procedures performed today that can eliminate the side effects of glaucoma.
In addition to lasers, there are also several surgical interventions that can treat glaucoma. These procedures reduce intraocular pressure to a level that adequately controls glaucoma and halts disease progression.
The ophthalmologists at Broberg Eye Care offer Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT), an office-based procedure that can result in more effective drainage of aqueous fluid from the eyes. In less than half an hour, we lower your eyes’ intraocular pressure by using a laser to create a chemical change in the drainage tissue. This allows the fluid in your eye to drain better.
Have any questions about glaucoma treatment?
At Broberg Eye Care, our ophthalmologists are dedicated to providing safe and effective glaucoma treatment. Check out our other glaucoma resources, and contact our office today to schedule an appointment.