Did you know that glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States? Glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerve and can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated. Here at Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we offer glaucoma treatment to help prevent further damage to your eyesight.
How Do You Treat Glaucoma?
There are several different types of glaucoma, and the most common type is open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma develops slowly and usually has no symptoms in the early stages. That’s why it’s important to have regular eye exams so that glaucoma can be detected early and treated.
There are different treatments for glaucoma, and the type of treatment that’s right for you will depend on the severity of your condition. The goal of the treatment is to lower the pressure inside your eye. This can be done with medication, surgery, or a combination of both. If you have glaucoma, it’s crucial to see schedule appointments regularly so that your condition can be monitored and treated if necessary.
Common Glaucoma Treatments
1. Prescription Eye Drops
Eye drops are usually the first line of defense when treating glaucoma. Eye drops help to reduce the pressure inside the eye by decreasing the amount of fluid produced by the eye. There is a wide range of eye drops medications available, and the type that is prescribed will depend on the severity of the condition.
Prostaglandins are a type of medication that is used to treat a variety of conditions, including glaucoma and ocular hypertension. Prostaglandins work by decreasing the production of fluid in the eye, which helps to reduce pressure within the eye.
The most common type of prostaglandin medication is Latanoprost, which is available under the brand name Xalatan. Other prostaglandin medications include Bimatoprost (brand name: Lumigan) and Travoprost (brand name: Travatan). Prostaglandin medications are typically used once daily, and they can be used alone or in combination with other glaucoma medications.
Beta blockers have long been used to treat a variety of conditions, including hypertension, angina, and migraines. These medications have also been shown to be effective in treating glaucoma.
Beta blockers work by blocking the action of adrenaline, which reduces the tension in the eye muscles and decreases the amount of fluid produced in the eye. This helps to reduce the pressure within the eye, which can prevent or slow the progression of glaucoma.
Alpha-adrenergic agonists are a group of medicines that work by reducing the production of aqueous humor and increasing the amount of fluid drained from the eye. The most common alpha-adrenergic agonist used to treat glaucoma is brimonidine (Alphagan). Other agents in this class include apraclonidine (Iopidine).
Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (CAIs) are a class of drugs used to treat glaucoma by reducing intraocular pressure (IOP). CAIs work by inhibiting the carbonic anhydrase enzyme, which is involved in the production of aqueous humor (the clear fluid that fills the space between the cornea and iris). This reduces the amount of fluid produced, resulting in lower IOP.
There are several different types of CAIs available on the market today. The most commonly used CAI is brinzolamide (brand name: Azopt). Other topical CAIs include dorzolamide (brand name: Trusopt) and levobunolol (brand name: Betagan).
Rho Kinase Inhibitor
This medicine works by inhibiting the rho kinase enzymes responsible for the production of fluid in the eye, thus helping alleviate pressure on the optic nerve. Rho-associated kinase inhibitor is available in both a pill and a liquid form and is typically taken once or twice daily. There are a number of Rho-kinase inhibitors available, including brinzolamide and netarsudil. These drugs are typically well tolerated.
Miotic or Cholinergic Agents
These agents work by constricting the pupil, which in turn decreases the amount of aqueous humor that is produced. Miotic or cholinergic agents usually contain pilocarpine, carbachol, or physostigmine. These agents are available in both prescription and over-the-counter formulations.
2. Oral Medication
We usually recommend oral medications for glaucoma treatment if eye drops haven’t been effective in reducing pressure within the eye. There are a few different types of oral medications that we might recommend, including beta blockers and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Each type of medication works in a slightly different way to reduce pressure in the eye, and we will work with you to determine which medication is right for you.
Medications and eye drops are often effective in managing glaucoma. However, there are some cases where surgery may be the best option. This may be due to severe damage to the optic nerve, a failure of other treatments to control pressure in the eye, or the presence of other health conditions that make surgery safer than other options.
This procedure involves making a small incision in the eye and then creating a new drainage channel for fluid to exit. This helps to reduce pressure in the eye, and can often improve vision. Filtering surgery is generally considered to be safe and effective
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS)
MIGS procedures are typically performed in conjunction with cataract surgery, and they are designed to lower eye pressure by creating a new pathway for fluid to drain from the eye. There are different types of MIGS procedures, and our surgeon will choose the one that is best suited for your individual case.
4. Laser Therapy
Laser therapy is a recommended treatment for open-angle glaucoma. This procedure involves using a laser to carefully remove tissue from the eye in order to improve the drainage of fluid. Laser therapy is typically performed on an outpatient basis. Recovery time is usually brief, and most people are able to resume their normal activities within a few days.
Treating Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. The treatment can be achieved with a combination of laser therapy and other surgical procedures. Depending on the severity of the condition, we may also perform a laser peripheral iridotomy. This involves making a small hole in the iris to help improve drainage and lower intraocular pressure.
Lifestyle Changes To Help Manage Glaucoma
Studies have shown that certain nutrients are essential for maintaining eye health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids can help to protect against cellular damage, while antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation. Including these nutrients in your diet may help to slow the progression of glaucoma.
Limit Your Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase blood pressure and heart rate. For people with glaucoma, caffeine can cause further increases in intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.
Sip Fluids Frequently
Although it may seem counterintuitive, drinking large amounts of liquid in a short period of time can actually cause a temporary increase in eye pressure. For this reason, it is advisable to sip fluids frequently throughout the day, rather than drinking large amounts all at once.
Sleep With Your Head Elevated
Patients should sleep with their heads elevated at about 20 degrees to help reduce the pressure in their eyes and prevent further damage to their vision. This position will also help to drain the fluid that can build up in the eye. In addition, patients should avoid sleeping on their stomachs, as this can increase the pressure in the eye.
Exercise can be an important part of a glaucoma management plan, but it’s essential to exercise safely to avoid further damaging your eyes. Here are some tips for exercising safely with glaucoma:
- Avoid high-impact activities that could cause additional eye damage
- Wear protective eyewear when participating in any activity
- Stick to our recommended exercises
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Stress can increase pressure in the eyes, which can exacerbate glaucoma symptoms. There are many different relaxation techniques that you can try, so it’s important to find one that works for you. Some people find deep breathing exercises to be helpful, while others prefer guided meditation or progressive muscle relaxation.
Get the Help You Need With Our Experienced Glaucoma Treatment Team
The best way to treat glaucoma is to prevent it. But if you have glaucoma, there are treatments that can help save your vision, including eye drops, oral medication, surgery, and therapy. Lifestyle changes can also help manage your condition. If you are concerned about glaucoma, don’t wait to get help. Contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, today to schedule an appointment. We will work with you to determine the best glaucoma treatment plan for your individual case.