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Treating glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can have consequences varying from vision loss to total blindness. The good news is that however, with early detection and treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss!

Immediate treatment for early-stage, open-angle glaucoma can delay progression of the disease and that’s why early diagnosis is very important. Glaucoma treatments include can include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.

Medicines, in the form of eyedrops or pills, are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Taken regularly, these eyedrops lower eye pressure. Some medicines cause the eye to make less fluid while others lower pressure by helping fluid drain from the eye. Before you begin glaucoma treatment, be sure to tell your eye care professional about other medicines and supplements that you are taking. Sometimes the drops can interfere with the way other medicines work.

Glaucoma medicines need to be taken regularly as directed by your eye care professional. Most people have no problems but however, some medicines can cause headaches or other side effects. For example, drops may cause stinging, burning, and redness in the eyes. Be sure to report these to your doctor as soon as it happens!

Laser trabeculoplasty helps fluid drain out of the eye by using a high-intensity beam of light  aimed through the lens and reflected onto the meshwork inside your eye. The laser makes several evenly spaced burns that stretch the drainage holes in the meshwork which allows the fluid to drain better.

Another option is conventional surgery which makes a new opening for the fluid to leave the eye and is often done after medicines and laser surgery have failed to control pressure. Before the surgery, you are given medicine to help you relax. Your doctor makes small injections around the eye to numb it. A small piece of tissue is removed to create a new channel for the fluid to drain from the eye. As mentioned earlier, glaucoma can be managed if detected early, so contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.