A recent glaucoma diagnosis can stir up many questions and even some concerns. It’s important to ask those questions so you don’t feel overwhelmed by your diagnosis. You may be wondering, “What is glaucoma?” “How do I treat it?” or “Can glaucoma limit my life?” We’re here to provide you with some insight and advice as you navigate through life with glaucoma.
The More You Know
As you probably learned from your eye care provider, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes damage to the optic nerve and is often associated with increased pressure in the eye. In a healthy eye, fluid is produced to help maintain the eye’s shape. Normally, this natural fluid flows out through an area called the trabecular meshwork and is absorbed into the bloodstream. For someone with glaucoma, the fluid does not drain at the same rate that it is produced, causing pressure to build in the eye. Over time, this increased pressure can damage the optic nerve and impact vision.
Glaucoma affects nearly 3 million people over the age of 40 in the United States and is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. While your initial diagnosis may cause some concern, early detection is key to managing glaucoma. Your next step is to come up with a treatment plan with your physician, and it is crucial that you continue setting up appointments with your doctor to keep track of your glaucoma and treatment steps.
The Game Plan
Once your eye doctor has run a series of tests and is able to diagnose what specific type of glaucoma you have make sure the two of you identify a treatment plan that is right for you. If you have been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate glaucoma, there are a few key treatment options that your eye care professional may recommend:
- Prescription Eye Drops: The most common treatment for glaucoma is prescription eye drops. They reduce the pressure in your eye by decreasing the amount of fluid created or by helping fluid drain from the eye. If your doctor prescribes eye drops for glaucoma, you’ll need to use them daily and sometimes you will be prescribed more than one type.
- Laser Treatments: There are multiple types of laser treatments available to help with your glaucoma. However, laser trabeculoplasty is the most common and it is aimed through a special lens and reflected onto the drainage system of the eye.
- Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS): Over the years, MIGS has become the preferred approach to glaucoma management. Now, more micro-invasive surgical options are available for patients who are interested in effective glaucoma management without having to rely solely on the continuous use of prescription medication. One of these treatments is the iStent inject® W. FDA-approved, the iStent inject® W is one of the world’s smallest known medical implants. iStent inject® W is approved for glaucoma patients in conjunction with cataract surgery to help drain fluid and reduce pressure in the eye.
Dealing With The Diagnosis
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma but it can be managed! That’s why it’s extremely important to visit your doctor and follow through with your treatment plan. Once a plan is in place, there are things you can do on your own to help you maintain your glaucoma before, during, or after treatment. The advice and information offered below may help you cope with your glaucoma!
- Find Support Groups: Meeting or talking to others with glaucoma, may be both informative and emotionally helpful! To find a support group that meets in-person check with your doctor or a healthcare center in your area. There are also active online groups where patients discuss and share their personal experiences.
- Eat Healthy Foods: Maintaining a healthy diet will help with your overall health. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are rich in Vitamin A and C, carotenes, and nitrates.
- Exercise: In addition to keeping you in good shape, working out regularly could potentially lower your eye pressure and improve blood flow. Be sure you discuss with your doctor the exercises you can and can’t do to help reduce the pressure in your eyes and overall health.
- Limit Caffeine Intake: Drinking large amounts of caffeine may increase eye pressure. This doesn’t mean you should cut out caffeine completely, just limit your consumption.
- Sleep with Your Head Elevated: Try sleeping with your head elevated to reduce intraocular pressure while you sleep.
- Listen to Your Doctor: Always make sure you are following your doctor’s orders and advice, and keep going to your regularly scheduled appointments.
- Live Your Life! Glaucoma shouldn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest. We understand that the initial diagnosis may seem scary but with the help of your doctor and the right treatment plan, you should feel confident your condition is under control!
Be The Teacher
As someone living with glaucoma, don’t be afraid to talk about your diagnosis with friends and family. Millions of Americans have glaucoma, so it could be something they have as well. If you’re comfortable, talk about the symptoms you had, the eye doctors you go to, and share your thoughts on the treatment options! You can help protect their eye health just by simply encouraging them to have their eye pressure and optic nerves checked regularly.
If you’re looking for an eye care professional in your area who is familiar with treating mild-to-moderate glaucoma, use our physician locator today! Also, don’t forget to follow Living with Glaucoma on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.