Glaucoma is a relatively common condition in adults over 35—two out of 100 people in this demographic have been diagnosed with glaucoma. It is estimated that the region of Middle Georgia to South Atlanta has the highest per capita incidence of glaucoma in the nation. “Glaucoma” refers to several diseases that damage your eye’s optic nerve, the nerve responsible for your ability to see. If untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness, so it is imperative to see your eye doctor for regular checkups.
If you and your doctor have caught your glaucoma in its early stages, treatment can delay or even stop the progression of the disease. However, there is no cure for glaucoma, which is why early diagnosis and strict adherence to treatments are so critical to preventing blindness.
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Glaucoma Treatment Options
Increased pressure in the eye is one of the main risk factors for glaucoma. Common treatments reduce eye pressure by assisting the flow of fluid out of the eye or by decreasing the amount of fluid entering the eye.
Usually, glaucoma can be controlled with eye drops or pills. Eye drops used two to four times per day work to lower eye pressure. Pills, also taken two to four times per day, decrease the flow of fluid into the eye. This treatment does not cure glaucoma, but it makes glaucoma less likely to damage your eyes. In order to work properly, glaucoma medication must be taken every day for the rest of your life.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) improves the flow of fluid through the eye by using a focused beam of light to target pigmented tissue cells within the drainage system of the eye. The procedure is nicknamed the “facelift for the eye,” because it tightens collagen. The lowest possible laser energy is applied, which makes this a less invasive but effective treatment. This is an approved first line therapy for glaucoma and can keep some patients from having to take medications.
If medication does not control the pressure in your eye, your doctor may suggest surgery as a way to lower your eye pressure.
Trabeculectomy removes a portion of the meshwork where fluid drains from the eye, making it easier for fluid to leave the eye.
Laser Iridotomy creates tiny openings in your iris, which allows fluid to flow from the posterior to the anterior chamber of the eye.
Lens Extraction treats and usually cures narrow-angle glaucoma, the most serious form of glaucoma, by opening the peripheral angle and increasing the depth of the anterior chamber of the eye. This reduces pressure in the eye and often results in improved vision.
Ex-PRESS Shunt uses a miniature device to create an opening under a flap made in the white part of the eye, known as the sclera. This allows the fluid to drain under the skin of the eye, known as the conjunctiva. The Ex-PRESS shunt is manufactured from stainless steel, which has been proven to be biocompatible and MRI safe.
iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA. Patients who have been diagnosed with glaucoma and cataracts can have this procedure done in conjunction with their cataract surgery. The iStent is designed to create a permanent opening in your trabecular meshwork to improve the outflow of fluid and help control eye pressure.
Goniotomy uses a small instrument to remove a piece of tissue (trabecular meshwork) that is responsible for eye fluid drainage. This reduces intraocular pressure by improving the fluid flow within the eye.
Schedule an Appointment with the Specialists at Eyesight Associates
To determine which glaucoma treatment is best for you, schedule an appointment at Eyesight Associates and talk to our eye care specialists.