There are a few ways to treat glaucoma, but by far the most common way is through the use of specialized eye drops. These eye drops cannot reverse the damage done by glaucoma.
That’s because any vision loss due to glaucoma is unfortunately permanent. But they do stop glaucoma from worsening, preventing any more vision damage.
To work as instructed, these drops need to be used every day. If you stop using your glaucoma drops, you will continue losing vision. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma!
How Does Glaucoma Work?
Glaucoma damages your eyesight very gradually, almost imperceptibly. Over time it can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated.
The disease targets the optic nerve, which is a cable of nerve fibers. The optic nerve carries information gathered by the retina and delivers it to the brain.
If internal eye pressure spikes, the optic nerve becomes damaged.
In open-angle glaucoma, eye pressure builds due to blockage of the eye’s drainage mesh. There are no noticeable symptoms with open-angle glaucoma except for increased eye pressure.
This is why regular eye appointments at Pinke Eye Center in Shelton, CT are so important. Early intervention can save your vision in the case of glaucoma.
With narrow-angle glaucoma, the drainage system becomes completely blocked. This blockage causes the internal eye pressure to skyrocket.
This type of glaucoma is very different from its more common brother. Symptoms are very noticeable, including headaches, nausea, and rapidly deteriorating vision.
If you experience these symptoms, go to a hospital. It qualifies as a medical emergency and needs to be treated as such.
With normal-tension glaucoma, there isn’t high internal eye pressure. Even without high intraocular pressure, there’s still damage occurring on the optic nerve.
This is likely due to some people having more fragile optic nerves than others.
How Does the Medication Work?
The function of glaucoma eye drops is to lower internal eye pressure. This halts any damage to the optic nerve.
There are many kinds of eye drops that work in different ways. Many are aimed at the production of internal eye fluid, and slowing it down so the existing fluid can drain out.
Other types of drops relax interior eye muscles to allow fluid to drain easier. Certain medications do both effectively.
The only way to know which kind of eye drops will work best for you is to talk with your doctor. In some instances, eye drops may be combined with oral medications to increase effectiveness.
In more extreme cases, drops may be taken after surgery to reduce immediate eye pressure. No matter why you are told to take eye drops for glaucoma, they need to be continuously used.
What If Eye Drops Don’t Work?
For most patients with glaucoma, eye drops help lower intraocular pressure. But in some cases, eye drops may not work.
In order for eye drops to work, they must be taken every day as instructed. If you skip doses, your intraocular pressure levels will start rising. With some patients, their glaucoma simply doesn’t respond to the eye drops.
If eye drops don’t work, there are other options to consider. This is usually some kind of surgical procedure. One of the most common is SLT, or selective laser trabeculoplasty.
SLT is a non-invasive procedure that creates an increase in the amount of fluid drained from the eye. For about 60% of patients, it is an effective treatment. If it’s not effective, you may need other medications or surgery within five years of your initial treatment.
Another procedure that patients may see benefits from is ECP, or endoscopic cyclo-photocoagulation. Dr. Pinke was one of the first ophthalmologists in Connecticut to offer this procedure.
With ECP, a laser reduces how much fluid the eye produces. This helps lower the pressure in the eye. ECP is normally performed at the same time as cataract surgery after the cataract operation is complete.
These are only a few of the many treatment options available for glaucoma patients, so talk to your doctor about what’s right for you!
Concerned you may have glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at Pinke Eye Center in Shelton, CT today!