Part 2 of Our Vision Care Series on Glaucoma
As with many conditions and diseases that the human body experiences there are two principle types of treatment, medicines and surgery. Which is appropriate for you is determined by your doctor and is influenced by your age, your overall health, the health of your eye, how progressed the disease is and other factors.
Medication is the first line of defense for Glaucoma sufferers. These medications typically address the condition in one of two ways, either by helping the aqueous humor fluid flow more freely through the eye and the drainage angle canals, or by preventing the eye from making as much of the fluid. Whichever method is used the idea is to prevent the pressure on the iris and the related damage to the optic nerve.
These medications are typically delivered via eyedrops and are classified and identified by their active ingredient or ingredients. The most popular active elements of the drug include beta blockers, prostaglandin analogs, rho kinase inhibitors and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. In some cases a combination of these medicines are prescribed and the amount may be changed over time to manage side affects, this is all controlled by your doctor.
One of the most popular of these is the Alpha Agonist because it breaks down into components of natural tear. These eye drops perform both of the actions that are currently used to help Glaucoma by reducing the amount of fluid the eye produces and improving drainage from the iris. Unfortunately, there are side effect including stinging end burning when the drops are applied and more general issues like headaches, dry mouth and fatigue.
Beta blockers treat the condition by decreasing the amount of intraocular fluid but are less popular because of a longer list of side effects including low blood pressure and reduced heart rate.
The Cholinergic improves the drainage through he channels of the trabecular meshwork and in doing so reduces pressure and the ensuing damage. Slightly more popular than the Beta blockers, the side effects of this Miotic drug include dim vision, as the active ingredient can make the pupil size smaller.
It is important to follow the treatment plan exactly as prescribed, even though it may be difficult to follow a regimen that consists of multiple different eye drops throughout the day. If you follow the treatment plan carefully medicines can be very effective.
While medicines are the first choice in most Glaucoma cases surgery is an option in more advanced cases. There are two types of surgery you doctor may recommend, laser surgery or incisional surgery, and this will vary based on the severity and type of your glaucoma as well as the overall health of the patient’s eye.
The laser surgery trabeculoplasty helps the aqueous fluid flow more freely by creating small laser burns on the area of the iris where the fluid is gathering. The more aggressive trabeculectomy procedure creates entire new channels to drain the fluid and reduce the intraocular pressure.
Another completely different approach consists of implants placed in the eye that shunt the fluid to reduce the pressure. This is done by sending the fluid into a collection area that is created by the surgeon beneath the conjunctiva, allowing the fluid to be absorbed into blood vessels nearby.
In some cases the surgery may need to be repeated, especially in cases where there is excessive scarring.
Jerry Willis is the owner of Lumen Eyewear and the computer glasses and reading glasses brand Visualites. Jerry has years of experience in eyewear frame and lens design and manufacturing of eyewear and is a member of the Vision Council of the United States of America. Lumen Eyewear is also a FDA licensed manufacturer and importer of reading glasses and computer glasses. Visualites is dedicated to bringing its customers products that not only improve their vision but the health of their eyes.