So you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma…now what? After the initial shock wears off, you may be curious about the available treatment options for this progressive eye condition. While the damage caused by glaucoma is permanent and cannot be reversed, there are safe and effective treatment options available to help stop further damage.
The treatment of glaucoma has come a long way and today’s advanced technologies and procedures make it possible to diagnose and successfully manage this progressive disease. The overall goal of any treatment for glaucoma is to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and stop the condition’s progression. Speaking to your ophthalmologist and getting a clear understanding of your glaucoma diagnosis is the first step to figuring out the best treatment for you. You may still have questions after this, so we want to help!
In Glaucoma 101 Part 1, you learned all about the different types of glaucoma, various symptoms, key demographics, and risk factors. Now, in Part 2, we’ll provide you with a better understanding of the available treatment options to help treat your condition, in addition to some tips for post-treatment care.
Glaucoma Treatment Overview
To help lower the pressure in the eye and manage your glaucoma, it’s likely your doctor will suggest using prescription eye drops. You also may be prescribed a combination of medications to help with your glaucoma. However, if a person’s glaucoma progresses or they have stopped responding to the eye drops, a surgical solution may be offered.
In years prior, these surgical solutions were traditionally highly invasive, required long recovery times, and could result in long-term complications. However, over time, technology has progressed, and less invasive techniques have emerged that have improved the overall safety of glaucoma surgery. This new technology has introduced more surgical options for people interested in effective glaucoma management that do not rely solely on the continuous use of prescription medication.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
After your physician reviews your medical history and conducts an eye examination, you will be presented with available treatment options. Everyone’s experience is different; therefore the treatment option will vary based on your glaucoma diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate glaucoma, below are some of the treatments your physician may suggest.
Most glaucoma treatments begin with getting prescribed eye drops from your eye care professional. The eye drops help to reduce the pressure in your eye by decreasing the amount of fluid your eyes make and also helping to drain it. It is common for your doctor to prescribe more than one medication to manage your glaucoma. Make sure to tell your eye care provider if you are taking other medications that may interfere with your glaucoma eye drops.
If you were diagnosed with open-angle glaucoma your eye doctor may suggest laser therapy. The most common laser treatment is called laser trabeculoplasty. Before this laser treatment, your doctor will begin by putting numbing eye drops in your eye so you feel minimal pain during the therapy. Following that step, a small laser beam will open up clogged areas of the trabecular meshwork. During this, you may see flashes of bright green or red lights.
Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS)
MIGS is a micro-invasive treatment option that can reestablish the eye’s physiological outflow, reduce intraocular pressure (IOP), and prevent the progression of glaucoma. MIGS typically refers to a group of surgical procedures that share these features: minimal trauma, efficacy, high safety profile, and rapid recovery.
With the FDA approval of the first generation iStent® approved in 2012, MIGS became a preferred approach to glaucoma management for many eye care professionals and patients alike. The iStent inject® W procedure is performed during cataract surgery and is one of the smallest medical devices known to be implanted in the human body. iStent inject® W includes two surgical grade titanium stents that are preloaded in a single-use sterile inserter. It creates two openings from the front part of your eye and is designed to restore your eye’s natural ability to drain the fluid causing the increased pressure inside your eye. Not to worry, once these are inserted, you will not be able to feel the stents in your eye, but you will see they are working to help reduce eye pressure. This technology has helped numerous people around the world manage their glaucoma. Keep in mind, you should continue to take eye drops unless your doctor or glaucoma specialist advises otherwise.
Post-Treatment Care and Maintenance
Like with any surgical procedure, it’s important to ask your doctor what you can expect from each treatment option and how to take care of yourself afterward. Depending on the type of treatment or surgical procedure you are offered, the recovery and plan of care will be different. Specifically, post-operative care for laser treatment and MIGS will look a little different than using eye drops to help with your glaucoma.
If you are continuing to use eye drops to help manage your glaucoma, it’s important to keep up with your prescription and follow the instructions from your ophthalmologist. Don’t forget to refill your prescription when appropriate, and never use eye drops that have expired. In addition, be cautious when taking your drops, as some people may experience adverse reactions, irritation, or develop or worsen an ocular surface disease.
After laser treatment, your ophthalmologist may suggest you continue taking your prescribed glaucoma medication. Following the procedure, your doctor will check your eye pressure, and at this time, you may feel some soreness and have blurred vision. As you recover, make sure you refrain from any strenuous activity, get plenty of rest, and listen to your doctor’s orders.
After your micro-invasive glaucoma surgery, you will be able to go home the same day. You will likely get antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to use, and your doctor will let you know whether you should continue taking your glaucoma eye drops. It’s important to keep using these until your doctor has said that it’s safe to stop! In addition to the eye drops, your ophthalmologist will schedule an appointment the next day to check in and see how you are doing following the surgery. Fortunately, the recovery time after MIGS and the iStent inject® W is relatively quick, but your doctor might recommend you take a few days off work and refrain from activities such as sports and heavy lifting.
Increasing Your Knowledge
Treating glaucoma is a collaborative effort between you and your physician. That’s why it’s important to know and understand all of your options! We hope you feel more educated about your and are feeling confident in the treatment options that are available for you. If you still have questions about which treatment option to pursue, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor to further discuss which path is right for you. Visit our website to find a glaucoma specialist near you.
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