Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, but it has a reputation for being hard to diagnose in its early stages. There is no way to reverse the vision loss caused by glaucoma, which is why treatment focuses on preventing further damage.
Early detection, eye drops, and surgery can slow its progress, preserving your vision for years to come. The team at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology has extensive experience dealing with glaucoma.
From diagnosis to surgery, we offer comprehensive care and guidance to help you maintain your vision. Glaucoma can be an intimidating diagnosis, but our team can track the progression of the disease, explain your treatment options, and give you hope for the future.
Keep reading to find out if glaucoma eye drops are necessary.
An Overview of Glaucoma
Glaucoma refers to a group of conditions that affect the optic nerve, which supplies images to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve is usually caused by high pressure within the eye.
As your eyes produce fluid, the fluid is drained through channels in your iris and cornea. If these channels become blocked, the intraocular pressure (IOP) within your eye will begin to rise. Over time, this can lead to open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma.
A sharp, sudden rise in IOP is known as angle-closure (acute) glaucoma, which causes immediate symptoms and requires emergency care. Open-angle glaucoma is slower and hard to detect in its early stages.
Most people do not know they have open-angle glaucoma until their ophthalmologist has diagnosed it.
Treatments for Glaucoma
There is no way to undo the damage caused by glaucoma, but modern medicine has allowed doctors to slow its progress. Early detection plays a large part in your prognosis.
Open-angle glaucoma is a slow condition with few symptoms. By the time you begin noticing changes, significant vision loss might have already occurred.
However, glaucoma can be diagnosed during a routine exam, and most patients begin treatment before their sight is seriously impaired. Treatment for glaucoma focuses on relieving pressure within the eye, which prevents damage to the optic nerve.
This is usually done using prescription eye drops, but advancements in ophthalmology have made surgery a viable alternative.
Assessing Your Options
Before deciding on any treatment, your ophthalmologist needs to perform a complete examination. They will test your vision, measure the intraocular pressure within your eye, and assess the damage to your optic nerve.
Most patients opt for eye drops because they are painless, non-invasive, and easy to administer. However, some patients might benefit from surgery.
If your glaucoma is progressing quickly, your eye doctor might recommend placing a shunt in the eye to help with drainage. At Grand Rapids Ophthalmology, we offer the iStent Trabecular micro-bypass stent — the smallest FDA-approved shunt on the market. Once placed in the eye, it reduces pressure automatically, reducing (or eliminating) the need for eye drops.