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 specialist 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 specialist. Because you cannot ‘feel’ your eye pressure, stopping treatment can lead to irreversible loss of vision, even if your eyes feel comfortable.
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 laser 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, 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.