What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that affect the vision and cause blindness in some more advanced stages. It is caused by elevated blood pressure in the eye, and it often shows no symptoms until it's too late.
It can occur at any age, but it's more common in older adults (60 and more). There are several types of glaucoma, and each of them is followed by different symptoms and signs.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
The best way to diagnose glaucoma is by performing a complete eye exam. That said, a glaucoma test that includes screening and checks eye pressure is not enough.
During a comprehensive eye exam, ophthalmologist will:
- Measure your eye pressure (tonometry)
- Examine your eye’s drainage angle (gonioscopy)
- Examine your optic nerve for potential damage
- Test your side vision and check the areas for vision loss (visual field test)
- Take a picture or computer measurement of your optic nerve
- Measure the thickness of the cornea (pachymetry).
Once you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, our eye doctor will prescribe some of the most efficient drug therapies or glaucoma laser surgery, depending on your condition’s stage.
What are the Most Efficient Glaucoma Treatment Options?
Glaucoma is a very severe eye condition, primarily because it is often followed by little or no symptoms at all. It can cause many vision problems and eventually lead to complete blindness, which cannot be reversed.
You can mitigate glaucoma effects by regular checkups and treatments aimed at lowering intraocular (eye) pressure. Depending on your condition’s form and stage, your eye care professional may suggest eye drops, oral medications, laser surgery, or a combination of any of these options. The sooner you catch the disease, the better the treatment results and improvements will be.
Let’s take a look at the best treatment for glaucoma based on its type:
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Treatment
Management of POAG consists of the treatments aimed at lowering intraocular pressure. Most eye doctors will recommend using one eye drop medication at bedtime, or additional drops if the condition is more advanced.
However, if eye drops aren’t enough, a laser comes as the next adequate option. Laser surgeries are safe, relatively painless, and efficient procedures performed by certified eye doctors either at clinics or their offices. Most patients can go home right after they’ve finished the treatment, and the recovery doesn’t last long.
Traditional glaucoma surgery is not necessary for treating this type.
Narrow-Angle Glaucoma Treatment
Narrow-angle glaucoma requires a more proactive approach, which means that the best option for its treatment includes a laser iridotomy, especially if the angle becomes too narrow.
Laser iridotomy is performed in order to decrease the risk of a sudden and severe build-up of pressure in the eye. The procedure starts as soon as the ophthalmologist places a drop in your eye to constrict the pupil. They then use the laser to create a tiny hole in your iris; its purpose is to provide an additional channel through which fluid inside the eye can flow since the usual pathway becomes blocked or too narrow.
You can go back to your everyday activities soon after the procedure is complete, but it’s recommended to see the eye doctor for a follow-up exam and listen to their suggestions.
Laser iridotomy is considered the best closed-angle glaucoma treatment for many reasons, but the most distinguished ones include:
- It prevents the onset of sudden (acute) closed-angle glaucoma.
- It may prevent slow-forming (subacute) closed-angle glaucoma in people who’re prone to developing this condition.
- It’s usually used as a preventive measure.
You should know that increased eye pressure may continue even after the laser iridotomy, which is why it's vital not to give up eye drops, oral medications, or other therapies your ophthalmologist may prescribe.
Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma Treatment
Acute angle closure glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops and oral medications, which can lower the pressure and prevent further disease progression. However, if a doctor sees that these therapies don’t give the expected results, they may consider laser iridotomy.
Note that this condition requires urgent medical assistance. If you're diagnosed with it, you'll need an immediate treatment to lower the intraocular pressure.
Other Glaucoma Treatment Options
Your doctor may suggest other treatment options based on your condition and overall health. They often include:
- Laser trabeculoplasty: This treatment may be an appropriate option for open-angle glaucoma. It involves using a small laser beam to open clogged channels in the trabecular meshwork, and it’s performed in your doctor’s office. The expected results will become apparent a few weeks after the procedure.
- Trabeculectomy: This is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon creates an opening in the white of the eye to remove part of the trabecular meshwork.
- Drainage tubes: During this procedure, a surgeon will insert a small tube shunt in your eye in order to drain away excess fluid and lower your intraocular pressure.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Glaucoma Laser Surgery?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions regarding glaucoma surgery. Patients are often afraid that they won’t be able to go back to their usual activities after the procedure, but that’s not true. In fact, recovery doesn’t last very long, especially when the surgery is performed in the best facilities and by the experts in the field.
However, the recovery depends on the patient and the surgery itself, but we can say that the patients will heal within 3 to 6 weeks approximately. The day after the operation should be entirely dedicated to recovery time, while the rest of the postoperative period can be more active. Still, avoid any strenuous activities such as heavy lifting, exercise, stressful work, etc. until your doctor determines that you’ve fully recovered.
You should also avoid swimming pools, scratching, and rubbing the eyes to reduce the risk of infection after surgery.
What are the Risk Factors
Some people are more prone to developing glaucoma than others. If you fall under one (or more) of the following categories, you should consider more regular eye exams and a more intensive eye care that consists of methods for lowering the pressure:
- Being over age 60
- Having a family history of glaucoma
- Having corneas that are too thin in the center
- Being extremely farsighted or nearsighted
- Having a history of eye injuries or particular eye surgeries
- Taking corticosteroids (eyedrops especially) for a long time
- Having diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, or any other underlying disease.
How to Prevent Glaucoma?
Damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Still, efficient treatments and regular eye exams can mitigate the risk of permanent vision loss and more severe damages to the optic nerve that leads to it.
Here are some ways of glaucoma prevention that may help you preserve your vision and maintain general eye health:
- Regular eye exams: The sooner you’re diagnosed with this eye disease, the better the chances to prevent a severe optic eye damage. If you're over 40 or have a family history of the disease, you should see the eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. Also, if you have diabetes or other eye condition, you should perform the exams more often.
- Exercise: Regular or moderate exercise can help lower the eye pressure, and thus prevent the onset of glaucoma.
- Take eye drops and medications: Eyedrops and drugs prescribed by your doctor will lower the pressure and prevent this eye condition's progression. You should use them even if you don't have any symptoms.
- Consider eye protection: Eye injuries can also lead to glaucoma, so it's critical to wear eye protection when using power tools, or while playing high-speed racket sports.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet plays a significant role in your eye health, which means that you should stick to it to regulate the eye pressure. Enrich your diet with vitamins and nutrients such as zinc, selenium, copper, and vitamins C, E, and A.
- Limit your caffeine: Beverages with high caffeine levels may increase eye pressure, which is why you should drink them less often.
Get the Best Laser Surgery for Glaucoma in Torrance, CA
Don't wait until it's too late. Glaucoma worsens over time, and its effects cannot be reversed. But Sharper Vision Centers can make them less apparent and prevent permanent vision loss by using the most innovative laser treatment for glaucoma that has delivered remarkable outcomes so far.
Come and see Dr. Oyakawa to express your glaucoma concerns today. Don't hesitate to give us a call at 310-792-1010 or fill out the request appointment form to get the best glaucoma laser treatment Torrance, CA offers.