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Glaucoma Treatment: Medications, Therapies, Surgery, and More!

Glaucoma Treatment: Medications, Therapies, Surgery, and More!

There is no cure for glaucoma. However, treatment can help in managing any symptoms and prevent vision loss. Glaucoma treatment can come in the form of eyedrops, oral medication, laser treatment, and surgery. Sometimes, it is a combination of treatments.

Can Treatment Restore Vision Loss?

Glaucoma related vision impairment and blindness is not reversible. Due to glaucoma’s lack of symptoms, the disease becomes noticeable only when vision impairment such as spots in the peripheral vision is already present. Treatment might not be able to recover any loss of vision, but it can delay and even prevent further vision loss.

Living with Glaucoma

Depending on the severity of vision loss, a person with glaucoma can still go on and live a normal life so long as they have their regular eye check up and follow through with prescribed treatment.

glaucoma treatment

Glaucoma Treatment

The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower intraocular pressure or pressure inside the eyes and avoid any further damage to the optic nerve.

This can be done via the following:

Eye Drops

Eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. These help lower the intraocular pressure by reducing the amount of fluid the eyes produce or helping the eyes drain the fluid better. Some eye drops can do both.

Eye drops are normally the first line of treatment for newly diagnosed glaucoma patients. Glaucoma is a lifelong disease and a person might have to use eye drops daily for the rest of their lives

Alpha Adrenergic Agonists

These reduce both fluid production and help the eyes drain fluid better. Side effects include fatigue, headache, dry mouth and nose, a burning and stinging sensation in the eye.

Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers reduce fluid production in the eye. Side effects include shortness of breath, followed by fatigue. This medication might also cause lowered blood pressure and reduced pulse rate.

Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

This reduces fluid production in the eye. Side effects may include discomfort and a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes.

Miotics

These reduce the size of the pupil to allow fluid to drain better from the eye. Side effects include watery eyes, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and sweating

Prostaglandin Analogs

Prostaglandin analogs increase the outward flow of fluid from the eye. Side effects may include stinging, redness, and itching in the eyes. Abnormal color change in the iris and eyelash growth might also occur.

Rho Kinase Inhibitors

These types of inhibitors increase the drainage of fluid from the eye. This is a new class of glaucoma medication and has been available since 2018. Side effects include small bleeds in the white part of the eye, eye redness, stinging and burning sensation in the eye.

Combinations

Sometimes a combination of more than one type of eye drop is used for treatment.

Oral Medication

Oral medication for glaucoma, specifically acetazolamide, is often used as a short-term measure for controlling very high pressure inside the eye. This is administered to people who need rapid decrease in intraocular pressure and when eye drops can no longer alleviate eye pain or decrease pressure inside the eye.

There is usually no risk in taking the drug for several days. But using the drug for weeks can cause damage to the kidneys. Your doctor would have to monitor kidney function via blood tests when this drug is being used for more than a few days.

Laser Treatment

Laser or amplified light energy is now commonly used to treat glaucoma. It can be applied to the eye’s drainage system so that flow is more effective and fluid inside the eyes can drain better.

Laser treatment is often prescribed if medication is not adequately controlled with current medications or glaucoma is already in its advanced stages.

Laser treatment might not be permanent and a patient might have to undergo more than one procedure in his lifetime.

Surgery

If glaucoma can no longer be controlled by medications or laser treatment, surgery might be required.

  • Glaucoma Drainage Devices (GDD) – Devices designed to control the flow of liquid inside the eye and improve drainage are surgically implanted inside the eye.
  • Trabeculectomy – A surgical procedure wherein a new opening is created so that fluid from the eye flows better and exits the eye more efficiently.

Key Takeaways

Glaucoma is not curable. However, its effects can be mitigated with treatment. Treatment for glaucoma includes eye drops, laser treatment, oral medication, and surgery. Glaucoma treatment varies depending on the severity and age of the patient. A person with glaucoma can still live a normal life so long as they follow through with treatment and get regular eye check-ups.

Learn more about Glaucoma here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Glaucoma: Treatment & Drugs, https://www.brightfocus.org/glaucoma/treatment-and-drugs, Accessed January 29. 2021

Glaucoma, https://www.lei.org.au/services/eye-health-information/glaucoma/, Accessed January 29. 2021

Glaucoma Treatments, https://glaucoma.org.au/what-is-glaucoma/glaucoma-treatments, Accessed January 29. 2021

Glaucoma Medications and their side effects, https://www.glaucoma.org/gleams/glaucoma-medications-and-their-side-effects.php, Accessed January 29. 2021

Topical Therapies for Glaucoma: What Family Physicians Need to Know, https://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0401/p1871.html, Accessed January 29. 2021

 

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Medical reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Hazel Caingcoy
Updated Feb 18
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