Glaucoma is an eye disease that results from an increase in the internal pressure of the eyes. Glaucoma can affect one or both eyes of an individual.
Glaucoma can be managed through eye drops, oral medicines, or surgery. Your eye doctor will help determine the best option for treating your glaucoma.
What is the Goal of Treating Glaucoma?
The goal with any glaucoma treatment is to lower the eye pressure. The eye is filled with a fluid called aqueous humor and it gives the eye a certain amount of pressure pushing outward.
If the pressure is too high, as is the case with glaucoma, it can damage parts of the eyes and result in a loss of vision.
In order to lower the eye pressure, one of two methods are used. The first method is to increase the drainage of the aqueous humor. The second method is to reduce the amount of aqueous humor produced.
Increasing the Drainage of Aqueous Humor for Glaucoma
Many of the medications that are used to treat glaucoma will increase the drainage of aqueous humor to lower the eye pressure.
A group of medications called prostaglandin analogs are topical eye drops which can be used to lower eye pressure. These medications are commonly the “first line” of glaucoma treatment.
There are other groups of medications which increase the rate of drainage of aqueous humor that only have a few medications in the group.
Many of these medications may be utilized if a prostaglandin analog has not been effective or there is a reason they cannot be used.
Decreasing the Amount of Aqueous Humor Produced for Glaucoma
Another main method of treating glaucoma is to reduce the amount of aqueous humor produced by the eyes.
A group of medications called beta blockers are eye drops which reduce the amount of aqueous humor produced. In addition to prostaglandin analogs, beta blockers are among the first medications used to treat glaucoma.
Another group of medications called alpha agonists are used to treat glaucoma because they reduce the amount of aqueous humor produced.
Alpha agonists are not usually used alone for long term treatment of glaucoma but are more frequently used in emergency situations to quickly lower the eye pressure.
A group of medications called Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors, or CAI’s, also lower eye pressure by reducing aqueous humor production. CAI’s can be eye drops or oral tablets.
The eye drop form of CAI’s are used with other medications to manage glaucoma, but the oral tablet forms are usually only used for a short-term treatment.
Combination Medications for Glaucoma
There are many combination eye drops which have two different types of medications together. These are used to get a bigger effect than either of the medications by themselves.
Combination drops are also more convenient and allow an easier routine for the patient to use.
Surgery Treatments for Glaucoma
There are multiple surgical options if medication has not been effective or cannot be used to treat glaucoma. These procedures include selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) in cases of a particular type called narrow angle glaucoma.
Both surgeries create an easier path for aqueous humor to drain from the front of the eyes.
Are Glaucoma Treatments Effective?
Glaucoma is a chronic condition and does not currently have a true cure, however, the treatments available will often be able to manage the condition and prevent any loss of vision.
Your eye doctor will be able to guide your glaucoma treatment and recommend the best option or options for your specific situation.
Our optometrist at Eye Contact in Acworth, GA excels in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrist at (770) 529-1925 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about the various glaucoma treatment options. Our eye doctor, Dr. Wes Mobley provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Acworth, Georgia and its surrounding areas.