Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease. It can also cause blindness. It entails progressive deterioration of the optic nerve. The nerves send visual messages from the eye’s retina to the brain. Glaucoma is mainly caused by increased pressure inside the eye, intraocular pressure, or IOP. The increased pressure causes damage to the optic nerve.
- being 40 years old or older
- family history of glaucoma
- have had an eye injury
- African, Asian or Hispanic heritage
- Diagnosed with diabetes, migraines or high blood pressure
- Long-term use of steroid medications.
These are some symptoms that glaucoma patients may experience:
- severe eye pain or pain in the forehead
- redness in the eye
- decreased or blurred vision
- seeing rainbows or halos
While there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment for the eye disease is primarily centered at reducing the intraocular pressure to a reasonable level to slow down further nerve damage. Maintaining a safe eye pressure is the main risk factor that an eye doctor can currently treat.
Treatment for glaucoma may consist of eye drops or laser surgery. Both treatments improve the drainage of fluid or reduce the production of additional fluid inside the eye. For many years, the primary glaucoma treatment consisted of eye drops. The treatment was a lifelong commitment. However one in three patients use the eye drops properly. Sometimes glaucoma eye surgery is required.
Laser Treatment for Glaucoma
Laser surgery is often used in open-angle glaucoma. This treatment may be a preferred option when medications do not work, or the patient has severe side effects from the medication. Glaucoma laser surgery is also an option for those who don’t want to apply eye drops daily because of cost or they are non-compliant.
The most common eye surgery is trabeculectomy, in which there are two types.
Laser trabeculectomy: Laser trabeculectomy is an open-angle glaucoma surgery. It uses a laser to make the angle of the fluid drainage work better. This helps the fluid flow out properly and eye pressure is reduced. This is used on several types of open-angle glaucoma.
Selective Laser Trabeculectomy: Selective Laser Trabeculectomy or SLT is a recent advancement in glaucoma treatment. One of the benefits of this procedure is that the laser does not burn tissue. The laser vaporizes the pigment that may be affecting the cells in the eye’s drainage system. By doing this, it improves the drainage of fluid from the eye and lowers the pressure in the eye. Since there are no burns, this laser technique can be done more than once safely.
While trabeculoplasty does not work in all patients, the success rate is approximately 60-70 percent in lowering the eye pressure by 20 percent. This may be a more desired treatment or an alternative to eye drops, glaucoma laser surgery is not a cure for glaucoma and the effect of laser treatment can wear off over time. However, SLT can be repeated if needed.
Laser treatment for glaucoma is a significant breakthrough in eye care. It is a safe, effective, and minimally invasive option to traditional treatments. While these treatments can’t reverse the damage done to the optic nerve, the treatments can help slow down or maintain a patient’s vision.
If you have concerns regarding your eye health or want more information about laser treatments for glaucoma, contact the Albemarle Eye Center by calling 1-800-755-7535.
**Please note that the suggestions provided in this blog are for general informational purposes only and may not be suitable for your specific insurance plan and glaucoma needs. It is important to consult a qualified healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment.**