Although open-angle glaucoma can’t be cured, the disease can usually be controlled with treatment.
While treatments can save remaining vision, they can’t improve the sight already lost to glaucoma. The most common treatments are medication, laser treatment and surgery. Routine glaucoma can be managed by a general ophthalmologist, and in certain cases, may be referred to a glaucoma specialist.
For most people, regular use of glaucoma eye drops will control the increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and slow down progression from the disease. Sometimes they can lose effectiveness over time, or cause side effects. While drops may sting or occasionally cause redness of the eye, do not stop the treatment without consulting your eye doctor first. This is because you can’t ‘feel’ your eye pressure as such, so if you do stop using the eye drops, it can lead to irreversible loss of vision.
In other words, if you stop using the drops your eyes may feel comfortable even though your vision is being damaged. While drops may sting or occasionally cause redness of the eye, it’s important not to stop treatment without seeing your eye doctor. Develop a routine to ensure that you do not neglect your daily treatment. This includes times when you
Develop a routine to ensure that you do not neglect your daily treatment. This includes times when you travel or are in hospital for other illnesses.
Laser surgery is another treatment for glaucoma. Argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) are advanced laser techniques used to treat open-angle glaucoma. This laser treatment is performed in clinic at Vision Eye Institute and does not require admission to hospital.
It’s a pain-free procedure in which anaesthetic eye drops numb the eye, so there is little or no discomfort. During surgery, a strong beam of light is focused on the part of the eye from which the fluid drains. The laser stimulates the cells regulating the eye pressure to pump faster, thus reducing the eye pressure.
Over time, the effectiveness of the procedure may wear off, necessitating repeat laser treatment, or in some instances supplementation with eye drops after laser treatment.
If your condition continues to progress, your ophthalmologist may recommend a third treatment – glaucoma filtration eye surgery.
The surgery is used to create a new passage in your eye to allow fluid to bypass the obstruction and drain out of the eye. Glaucoma filtration surgery is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. You don’t need to stay overnight – it’s typically a procedure carried out in one of our day surgery clinics.
A recent breakthrough in the treatment of glaucoma is the iStent. Used in the treatment of mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma, this device is the smallest ever to be given FDA approval.
Typically (but not exclusively), glaucoma results when the aqueous humour, a liquid that sits within both chambers of the eye, cannot drain properly. This results in a build-up of pressure on the optic nerve and, when it begins to damage the nerve itself, precious sight is lost.
The microscopic ‘stent’ is the size of a speck of dust and, once inserted, will provide a drainage system for the aqueous humour, thus reducing pressure on the optic nerve.
At this stage, it can only be implanted during another ophthalmic surgical procedure such as cataract surgery. However, the iStent has already produced some outstanding results.
An Optical Coherence Tomography scan is traditionally used to diagnose retinal disorders such as macular degeneration. Recently, software has been developed that can turn the OCT scanner into a tool for the diagnosis of glaucoma.
While an intraocular pressure test, a visual field test and a manual slip lamp are still used, this new software allows an OCT scan to be extremely accurate when diagnosing the progress of glaucoma.
Because it can detect levels of damage earlier, the management of glaucoma can be timelier. This gives a patient a much better chance of retaining sight that may have otherwise been lost because of a later diagnosis.
Glaucoma can only be kept at bay with ongoing treatments, many of which include daily drops. Because glaucoma doesn’t involve a sensation such as pain, some patients forget to use their drops as recommended.
Vision Eye Institute is currently involved in a revolutionary slow release implant trial for glaucoma.
Rather than the standard drops, a pellet is infused with medication, which is then slowly released over the course of 4 months. The pellet sits in the eye itself; doesn’t become diluted and therefore increases its effectiveness.
The early stages of the trial are looking extremely positive. This medical breakthrough is considered by many to be the next step in keeping glaucoma under control.
All medical procedures have benefits, risks and possible complications. If you have any queries regarding vision correction procedures please contact us.