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Treatment for Glaucoma

The following refers to Open Angle Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which causes loss of nerve tissue over time.  The optic nerve is the connection between your eye and your brain.  It is actually brain tissue.

Glaucoma vision loss cannot be fixed.  Once the nerve tissue is damaged, it cannot be repaired at this time.  But, treatment can prevent further damage or vision loss.


One of the most common treatments is medication, specifically eye drops.  Medication for glaucoma is used to lower the eye pressure to help keep the optic nerve functioning.  Usually one type or class of eye drops is started first and your doctor will need to check if your eye is responding to that type of medication.  There are several different classes of medications and some medications work better that others in certain people.  If one drop does not work your doctor will most likely try a different drop or class of medications.  Sometimes, an eye drop will work well only for a while.  Over time, some eyes adapt to the medication and it no longer lowers the eye pressure.  Another eye drop is added or changed.  That is why it is very important to see your doctor regularly to have your pressure checked, even if you have been on an eye drop for a long time.

Laser treatment for Glaucoma

Laser treatments are also available sometimes as a alternative to eye drops, sometimes in conjunction with eye drops.  Laser treatments are directed at the drainage system of the eye.  Since your eye makes its own fluid and has its own pressure, the fluid has to drain out of the eye.  If the drain were able to drain more fluid, the pressure inside your eye would be lower.  This is the theory behind a laser treatment for glaucoma.  It causes the drain in the eye to function better and makes the eye pressure go down.  Unfortuneately, this is not a one-time fix.  Sometimes, the laser needs to be repeated, and its effects only last a few years.

Surgery for Glaucoma

Surgery for glaucoma is usually after medical or laser treatments have failed.  Surgery is to make a new drain for the eye to reduce the eye pressure further.  Surgery has risks and benefits. You should discuss these with your doctor.  The main risks are infection, bleeding, eye pressure that is too high, or too low, and loss of vision.  The benefits are to save your eye from complete blindness from glaucoma and lower the eye pressure, and not needing eye drops anymore (although drops are still needed in some cases).  In general surgery is performed as an outpatient and close follow up is required the first few weeks.

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