There are different treatment options available that are designed to slow, or stop, the damage to the eye caused by glaucoma.
Although vision that has already been lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored, these treatments can slow further vision loss.
Treatments to address glaucoma
The Ophthalmology specialist will suggest the use of eye drops, a laser procedure or a surgical procedure to treat glaucoma. All of these treatments have a common goal: to lower intraocular pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
– Prescription eye drops lower intraocular pressure by lowering the amount of fluid produced by the eye or by helping the fluid leave the eye more easily.
– Laser procedures can lower eye pressure by relieving the blockage in the eye’s drainage mechanism. In some cases, lasers are also used to create new drainage channels inside the eye when there is an obstruction to the normal flow of fluid. Surgical procedures lower the pressure in the eye by creating an opening in the wall of the eye, through which fluid can easily drain out.
– Another surgical possibility is to implant a tube called a “shunt” to channel the fluid out. Your treatment plan will depend on the type of glaucoma you have, how far it has progressed and your general health.
Your ophthalmology specialist will determine the best way to treat you.
Argon laser trabeculoplasty or TLA
The most common type of laser surgery for open-angle glaucoma is called argon laser trabeculoplasty, or ALT. During ALT, the physician directs a high-frequency laser beam into the trabecular system, which is the main draining region of the eye. In most cases, this is treated with spot laser applications, typically between 40 and 80 applications. TLA allows aqueous fluid to drain more easily, thereby reducing pressure in the eye. It is usually painless or causes only mild discomfort.
After the procedure the patient is usually treated for a couple of days with anti-inflammatory eye drops. Most patients should come in for a re-evaluation visit in a few weeks.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty or TLS
The newest laser surgery option for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma is called selective laser trabeculoplasty or TLS. In this procedure, the laser selectively treats certain cells, leaving other parts of the trabecular system intact. The follow-up and effects of the procedure are exactly the same as with ALT.
Glaucoma can also be treated by a special procedure called trabeculectomy. During this procedure, an alternative channel is created through which fluid can exit the inside of the eye when the usual pathways are blocked. The fluid is collected outside the eye in a small pocket, from where it is then reabsorbed by the body. This lowers the fluid pressure inside the eye, which helps prevent further damage to the optic nerve caused by glaucoma. In the weeks following the procedure, eye drops should be used to prevent inflammation and infection. Frequent follow-up visits will be necessary so that the ophthalmic specialist can monitor your progress and determine the need for any additional treatment.