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Glaucoma Treatment

The primary goal of glaucoma treatment is to prevent further loss of vision because any pre-existing vision loss is irreversible. Glaucoma treatment may be recommended in the form of medical therapy, laser surgical therapy or incisional surgical therapy. The appropriate treatment for each patient is different and depends on many factors, such as the overall health of the patient, the severity of the glaucoma, the age of the patient and the specific type of glaucoma. Although glaucoma cannot be cured, treatment is aimed at slowing or stopping the progression of visual loss. The earlier glaucoma is detected, the more successful treatment is at preserving vision.

Medical Therapy

Most treatment for glaucoma is managed with medications, with the goal of managing the disorder well enough to prevent its progression and surgical treatments. There are several kinds of medication that may be prescribed. 

  • Prostaglandins: these eye drops work near the drainage area of the eye to improve the fluid outflow
  • Beta blockers, carbonic anydrase inhibitors and miotics: eye drops that lower the amount of fluid produced
  • Alpha adrenergics: drugs which reduce the eye's resistance to fluid drainage
  • Combination drops, which incorporate two medications into one application

Self-Care for Glaucoma Patients

Glaucoma is a disorder that requires significant attention and self-management by the patient.  In addition to the medication schedule and need for return appointments to monitor the disease, patients also need to avoid medications and supplements that can worsen glaucoma. Close attention to the warnings on over-the-counter products and open discussion with the patient's physicians about drug interactions are necessary.

Glaucoma Surgical Procedures Available

When a patient's glaucoma progresses beyond the ability of the medications to control, surgical intervention may be necessary. 

  • Diode Laser Transscleral Cyclophotocoagulation (Diode CYC). This laser procedure is used to reduce the capability of the eye to produce the fluid that builds up in glaucoma.
  • Glaucoma Filtration Surgery (Trabeculectomy). This is a surgical procedure that creates a new drainage site in the eye to help the eye drain fluid more readily.
  • Glaucoma Tube Shunt Procedures. In this surgical procedure, a device is implanted into the eye, permitting extra fluid to drain and reduce the interior pressure of the eye.
  • Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI). This laser procedure is a preventive measure for patients at risk of rapid, high pressure build-up, as it opens or widens the drainage structures in the eye.
  • Laser Trabeculoplasty. This laser procedure is used to open the drainage site of the eye, enabling the eye to maintain more normal fluid pressure. At Mass. Eye and Ear, we offer Argon Laser and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT and SLT).