Glaucoma Treatment Options

What are Treatment Options?

GlaucomaGlaucoma can be detected during a routine, dilated eye examination before the patient experiences any vision problems. An evaluation for glaucoma is painless and includes checking the pressure or “firmness” of the eye with a tonometer and examining the optic nerve.

Glaucoma is a condition which damages the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The primary risk factor is elevated eye pressure, also called intraocular pressure (IOP). Most, but not all, patients who have glaucoma have elevated eye pressure. The fluid produced within the eye, called aqueous humor, leaves the eye via a drainage system in the front chamber of the eye. When production and removal of the fluid are out of balance, the pressure rises. Over years or decades, increased pressure within the eye results in damage to the optic nerve. This damage causes a slow, progressive loss of vision, starting with peripheral vision loss and ultimately affecting central vision.

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Glaucoma is typically treated with eye drops that decrease eye pressure either by slowing the amount of fluid produced within the eye or by improving the flow through the drainage angle. Glaucoma medications may produce side effects, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.

In order to treat advanced problems, our physicians perform three different surgeries. The type of treatment used depends on the type of ailment the patient has. During the pre-operative consultation, your Arlington Eye Center doctor will determine which operation is most appropriate.

Trabeculoplasty: This procedure is used to treat the most common type of disease in the United States, primary open angle glaucoma, in which the drainage canals of the eye no longer function properly. Using a beam, the doctor creates a new drainage canal, allowing the fluids to effectively drain.

Iridotomy: This type of treatment is utilized primarily on patients with a narrow-angle problem, in which the iris blocks normal fluid drainage. The doctor uses an instrument to create a tiny hole in the iris, effectively restoring normal drainage.

Cyclophotocoagulation: This operation is only used on patients who have failed to respond to other treatments. The physcian uses the instrument to ablate part of the ciliary tissue, the cells responsible for the production of fluids, reducing the overall output of fluids.