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Glaucoma

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 22:07

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Glaucoma can be treated, and the sooner the better. The damage that has already occurred from glaucoma cannot be repaired-it will either stay the same or get worse. Catching glaucoma at its earliest stages and treating it promptly will increase the odds of keeping one's vision.

All of the various glaucoma treatments and procedures are aimed at reducing eye pressure. Eye pressure doesn't necessarily cause glaucoma, but once it develops, eye pressure speeds up the destructive process.

There are a number of different treatments for glaucoma:

The type of treatment depends upon individual conditions.

Eye Drops

Eye drops are used to reduce eye pressure by either increasing the eye's ability to drain or by decreasing the amount of fluid it produces.

If you notice any side effects from any eye drops you use, contact your doctor. If one medication is causing problems, there are usually others that can be used.

You also should also talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using a new drop, to make sure it doesn't conflict with anything else you are taking.

How-To Information:

To give the eye drop more time on the surface of the eye, where it can do the most good, try the following:

  • Close your eyes after putting in the drops.
  • Leave your face turned up so the drop is more likely to stay on the eye.
  • Apply gentle pressure on the skin between the eye and nose.

Medications that are applied directly to the eye are usually in the form of eye drops, but sometimes ointments may be prescribed. There are six different types of medications that are administered to the eye to treat glaucoma:

  • Beta-blockers cause little discomfort and work by decreasing the production of aqueous fluid. However, they can make breathing and heart problems worse in people with heart or lung conditions.
  • Prostaglandins increase drainage. They can cause blue and green eyes to become darker.
  • Alpha-stimulators are used with other medications to lower eye pressure. These can cause allergic reactions in and around the eyes.
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors decrease fluid production. Because they are sulfa based, they should not be used by people allergic to sulfa.
  • Miotics increase fluid drainage. They can, however, cause headaches when first used. They also cause the pupil to constrict-shrink-which can cause blurred vision.
  • Epinephrine increases fluid drainage. Although there are not usually any major complications, it can cause temporary redness of the eye and blurred vision.

Oral Medication

Pills are usually used to decrease fluid production. They can be very effective in lowering eye pressure, but they also cause side effects in about half of the people who take them. For this reason, your doctor may want to try other options first.

Possible side effects of glaucoma pills are:

  • Tingling in the fingers and toes
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood changes

Less common side effects include:

  • Blood chemistry imbalance
  • Kidney stones
  • Aplastic anemia, an extremely rare but possibly life-threatening condition in which the bone marrow no longer produces blood cells

Glaucoma