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Glaucoma is a very serious condition that causes fluids to build up behind the eye, which creates pressure. If this pressure is not released, irreparable vision loss can occur. There are many ways in which our physicians help people avoid losing their sight due to glaucoma.
The first option is to begin taking medications that can control the pressure behind the eyes.
If the condition worsens to the point that medications will not help, surgery may be needed in order to enable the fluids to drain before any lasting damage occurs.
Glaucoma Surgery: Laser
In some cases, laser surgery is a viable option for those suffering from glaucoma. Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT) is a procedure that involves using high-energy beams of light to shrink parts of your eye’s drain, which causes adjacent areas to stretch open. This allows fluids to drain much faster. This procedure may require multiple treatments, and it is important for you to continue taking your glaucoma medications.
Glaucoma is a disease that silently and slowly robs people of their vision over many years. By the time you have blurry vision from glaucoma, it is too late. Once damage from glaucoma occurs, it cannot be reversed. Further treatment only prevents more vision loss. Treatment is not likely to restore vision that is already lost.
Preventing Vision Loss Due to Glaucoma
The more you know, the better your outcomes. Preventing damage is the most important step. To prevent damage, you should:
- Get screened, especially if there is a history of glaucoma in your family.
- Keep your annual appointments with your eye doctor.
- If you are currently using glaucoma drops, never miss a dose.
Early Onset Treatment
There are several treatment options for early glaucoma. You can start using drops, or get a laser treatment called SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty).
- Glaucoma Drops are very effective, but can generate symptoms of red eyes and dryness.
- SLT is a great option because it may delay, reduce, or eliminate the need for drops. It has a very good safety profile with low side effects. Every person has a different level of glaucoma. Your physician will talk to you more about the SLT option.
- A new FDA approved device called Istent is now available for people with mild and moderate glaucoma. It can also eliminate, reduce, or delay the need for drops. It is usually combined with cataract surgery. For more information, contact our office for a consultation with our eye surgeons.
Rest Assured – There are still more options for glaucoma patients. There are times when drops, lasers, and Istent will no longer be sufficient. At that time, your surgeon will talk to you about a glaucoma surgery called Trabeculectomy. Due to the side effects, the surgery is reserved for severe cases of glaucoma only. It reduces pressure in the eye by redirecting the eye fluid from inside to outside the eye. A trap door is created in the wall of the eye and fluid is allowed to drain to the outside.
The escaping fluid is not exposed to the outside environment because there is a thin membrane called the conjunctiva that remains sealed and watertight. The surgery is more effective than drops in lowering pressure, but has more side effects. Success rates and side effects vary according to your general health, age, and eye condition. Your surgeon will talk to you about outcomes, time off, and success rates when customizing a treatment option for you.
Additional Options for You
If you have severe glaucoma, and drops, lasers, and Trabeculectomy have failed, then your surgeon will talk to you about a Glaucoma Drainage Device, or Shunt. These shunts carry the same principle as a Trabeculectomy by redirecting fluid from the inside to the outside of the eye. In individuals with a lot of scarring, a Trabeculectomy will not work, and a draining device is needed. Your surgeon will talk to you more about success rates and side effects. To request more information call our office and ask for a consultation with one of our eye surgeons.