In 2020, an estimated 80 million people all over the world had glaucoma. Experts expect this number to reach more than 111 million in 20 years. Open-angle glaucoma is the most prevalent form of glaucoma in the United States. It affects nine out of 10 people and doesn’t usually have early warning signs. Angle-closure glaucoma, which is sometimes called narrow-angle or acute glaucoma, is a type of medical emergency. You need to seek immediate treatment once you experience intense eye pain, eye redness, blurred vision, and nausea.
Diagnosis for glaucoma starts with your eye doctor reviewing your medical history. They will then perform a comprehensive eye examination, which will involve several tests. These will likely include a visual field test, which checks for vision loss areas, and tonometry, which measures intraocular pressure. They may also conduct pachymetry to measure corneal thickness as well as gonioscopy to inspect the drainage angle. A dilated eye exam and imaging test will test for optic nerve damage.
There is currently no cure for glaucoma. Sadly, the eye damage caused by this condition is irreversible. But if caught early, routine checkups and treatment can help slow down or prevent your risk of blindness. Treatment for glaucoma generally aims at lowering intraocular pressure.
Your eye doctor may recommend a variety of options, depending on your situation, including:
Treatment for glaucoma usually starts with eye drops. It helps reduce eye pressure either by lessening fluid production in your eye or improving how it drains from your eye. Your doctor will determine how low your eye pressure has to be. From there, they will know which eyedrop medications to prescribe. These may include beta-blockers, prostaglandins, or rho kinase inhibitors, among others.
If using eyedrops alone doesn’t reduce your eye pressure to the intended level, your eye doctor will likely prescribe pills to take. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are oral medications for glaucoma, approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They’re also available in eyedrop form. They are meant to reduce the amount of fluid your eye makes.
This is the most commonly used treatment for glaucoma. The eye doctor will lower your eye pressure by directing a laser toward your trabecular meshwork, iris, ciliary body, and retina. There are several types of laser therapy. These include trabeculoplasty, laser peripheral iridotomy, cyclophotocoagulation, and scatter pan-retinal photocoagulation. If all other treatments fail, your eye doctor may also perform conventional surgery or incisional therapies.
Your eye doctor will consider a few aspects of your condition to determine which treatment is best for your case. These factors include how severe your glaucoma is and how you respond to the medications. If you have other health issues, they will also take this into account.
There are two critical predictors for successful glaucoma management. These are your adherence to medication as well as your participation in regular monitoring. As you know, glaucoma is a progressive lifelong eye disease. Following your treatment plan and attending your follow-up appointments are crucial to protect your vision.
Learn more about diagnosing & treatment of glaucoma, contact North Shore Eye Health and Wellness in Cedarburg, WI at (262) 421-4412.