A healthy optic nerve is crucial for good vision. Glaucoma is a term for a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve becomes damaged. These eye conditions are typically characterized by high intraocular pressure. Over two million Americans are affected with glaucoma and the risks increase after the age of 35. In order to get treatment for your glaucoma, it’s important to first understand its types and how it damages your eye.
Types of Glaucoma
The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. Like other forms of the disease, it’s progressive, meaning it gets worse with time. It’s treatable, but treatment doesn’t reverse the damage that has already happened. Instead, the goal of treatment is to slow down the progression of the disease.
“Primary” means that your glaucoma has no apparent cause. When your glaucoma happens as a result of another condition or as a side effect of certain steroids, your doctor will label it as “secondary.” Another type of the disease is angle closure glaucoma, also called closed or narrow angle glaucoma (NAG). It’s much rarer, and the acute type is a medical emergency. Unlike open angle glaucoma, the closed angle type comes with symptoms such as intense pain and blurry vision that can come upon you suddenly.
Our Newsom Eye team of providers and glaucoma specialists are skilled at diagnosing and treating the different types of glaucoma, including open angle and narrow angle.
How Glaucoma Damages Your Eye
Your eye contains fluid called aqueous humor. Since your eye constantly produces new fluid, old fluid needs a way to get out. There are two ways — called drainage pathways — for the old fluid to exit the eye.
The first drainage system is known as the trabecular meshwork. As the name implies, this is a spongy network of tissue that is located just behind the cornea. The second pathway is the uveoscleral outflow, also found near the front of the eye and behind the cornea.
If you have an abnormality with either of these pathways, the aqueous humor can build up in your eye. This, in turn, can raise your intraocular pressure (IOP). High IOP damages your optic nerve over time, which can cause gradual peripheral vision deterioration.
There are three options for treating glaucoma: medication, laser treatment, and surgery.
Treating Glaucoma with Medication
Medicine is usually the first-line treatment for glaucoma. Because your bloodstream doesn’t reach all parts of your eye effectively, most medication comes in the form of topical eye drops rather than as pills or other oral forms. Eye drops for glaucoma are considered safe with relatively few side effects.
Most commonly, our team will prescribe prostaglandins to be taken daily. You put these drops in your eyes at bedtime to help lower eye pressure by improving fluid drainage via the trabecular meshwork or uveoscleral outflow.
Another category of medication that may help lower your IOP is beta blockers. Beta blockers work by lowering the amount of aqueous humor your eye naturally produces. You can learn more about prostaglandins, beta blockers, and other medications at Newsom Eye.
Another option for the management of glaucoma is Durysta, the first and only FDA-approved, sustained-release polymer that dissolves overtime and is used to reduce eye pressure. As Durysta dissolves overtime, it automatically, slowly releases medicine to help reduce high eye pressure inside your eye and can reduce the pressure for months.
Laser Treatment Options for Glaucoma
Medication isn’t always effective in treating glaucoma and can sometimes have unwanted side effects. People with conditions like asthma may not be able to take beta blockers, which can have respiratory side effects.
For these reasons, you may want to consider laser treatment. Especially if your eye doctor catches your glaucoma in its early stages, a selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) may be a good option for you.
In an SLT, your eye doctor numbs your eye and then uses a laser to target the tissues responsible for fluid drainage. Unclogging areas of the trabecular network can allow for a better flow of the aqueous humor out of the eye.
Effective Glaucoma Surgery Options
You have different surgical options for treating glaucoma. One is to have tiny tubes placed in the meshwork of the eye to allow fluid to drain easier. This surgery is considered minimally invasive, and there are several ways to do it. A related option is to have your surgeon insert a shunt, which is a small tube to help drain the fluid. The third type of surgery is called a trabeculectomy. In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small hole in your eye’s surface from which excess fluid can escape.
Glaucoma Recovery and After Care
Recovery from laser or surgical procedures for glaucoma usually lasts no longer than a few weeks. Our team at Newsom Eye will give you thorough instructions for aftercare, including any physical limitations such as how much weight you can lift. In general, you’ll need to stay away from activities that require heavy lifting or straining. Your doctor will follow your progress to ensure the success of your treatment.
The Newsom Eye Commitment to Glaucoma Treatment
For premium care and a team that will work closely with you through your diagnostic testing, treatment, and individualized recovery plan, contact Newsom Eye. There, you’ll find a variety of treatment options catered specifically for your needs. You Deserve NEWSOM EYES!