What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the eye’s optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The damage occurs when the fluid in the front part of the eye builds up, creating pressure. There are two principal forms of Glaucoma – Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle Closure Glaucoma or “Narrow-angle” Glaucoma.
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma occurs over time when pressure builds up within the eye and the fluid does not drain properly.
Angle Closure Glaucoma is more severe and develops over time as well. This happens when the iris blocks or partially blocks the drainage angle of the eye. This form of Glaucoma eventually leads to an attack where symptoms develop rapidly. Symptoms of this form of Glaucoma include severe and sudden eye pain, headaches and nausea, sudden loss of vision or sudden blurry vision. When this happens it is important to seek a medical professional right away.
Treatments for Glaucoma
Typically doctors start with eye drops to lower the eye pressure into a normal range. If eye drops do not work well to lower the pressure, the next consideration is the use of a laser or surgery. Argon lasers are designed to treat the drainage ports inside the eye to allow for faster drainage of fluid. This, in turn, will lower the eye pressure. Most individuals undergoing laser treatment in the eye experience a significant reduction of eye pressure for several years. The effect can wear off but the treatment can be repeated. Certain types of glaucoma respond best to this treatment so your doctor will decide which form of treatment is best for you.
If a laser is ineffective or is not the right treatment, a glaucoma surgery called a “goniotomy” or “trabeculectomy” are potential next steps in lowering the eye pressure. Often done at the time of cataract surgery, the drainage system of the eye is mechanically opened up, thus reducing the pressure. This is successful in over 90% of cases and is often long-lasting. However, some individuals may need to continue eye drops to maintain an acceptable pressure. Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that can be managed successfully if it is detected early.