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6 Ways Glaucoma Treatment Can Help Preserve Your Vision

March 27, 2024

If you were recently diagnosed with glaucoma, you're not alone. Glaucoma is a prevalent eye condition that can lead to complete loss of vision if left untreated.

It can also lead to total vision loss if not treated. Luckily, some treatments can slow and prevent further vision loss from glaucoma.

We offer a variety of these treatments at Maryland Eye Associates. Keep reading to learn about 6 ways that glaucoma treatment can help preserve your vision and how glaucoma can affect your vision.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions causing damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects your eye to the neural passages that send signals to your brain.

Without it, your eye wouldn't be able to send any signals to your brain, meaning you'd be unable to see. When the optic nerve becomes damaged, it eventually loses the ability to send all information about what you're seeing to your brain.

This is why glaucoma patients experience vision loss. Almost all types of glaucoma are caused by high intraocular pressure or IOP. Pressure in the eye builds when the fluid that fills the eye, called aqueous, can't flow out of the eye.

If aqueous cannot flow out of the eye, it's usually due to the various drainage channels in the eye becoming partially blocked off. Over time, more fluid builds up, and the pressure strains the optic nerve, damaging it.

Most forms of glaucoma develop very slowly, so you won't notice any symptoms at first. The first symptom that most glaucoma patients see is a loss of their peripheral vision.

If this occurs, you may notice that the sides of your vision appear blurry and eventually go dark completely. The farther the eye condition progresses, the more tunnel vision you'll experience.

Any vision loss due to glaucoma is permanent and irreversible. Damage to the optic nerve is irreparable.

This is why glaucoma is called the Silent Thief of Sight. The eye condition has few if any, symptoms that patients can watch out for, meaning once patients realize they have glaucoma, irreversible and permanent vision loss has already occurred.

But the bright side is you can treat glaucoma, meaning vision loss from the eye condition doesn't have to be inevitable. Here are just a few of the ways that glaucoma treatment can save your vision:

1. Glaucoma Has No Cure, But Treatment Can Manage It

Any damage done to the optic nerve cannot be repaired. Glaucoma itself has no cure, but you can control it with treatment.

Treatment can be highly effective in slowing and even stopping further damage to the optic nerve. Without treatment, glaucoma will eventually lead to complete vision loss.

But with treatment, you can preserve your vision for many years to come.

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2. Early Detection and Early Treatment

Since damage to the optic nerve is irreversible, early detection is the best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. But since glaucoma doesn't present any symptoms in the early stages, the only way to spot it is by having regular eye exams.

When you have an eye exam, your eye doctor can measure your intraocular pressure and examine your optic nerve with imaging equipment to detect early signs of damage. Treatment is most effective when diagnosed early.

This is why it's so important to have eye exams regularly, especially when you're over 40. By the time you're 55, you should have them at least once a year.

3. Taking Prescription Medications to Reduce Intraocular Pressure

Most patients are prescribed eye drops as the first treatment for glaucoma. These drops lower intraocular pressure.

However, to remain most effective, you must take them daily. You may also be able to take oral medication that can help lower intraocular pressure.

Medication can be very effective in controlling glaucoma and can even be used to treat patients before they develop it. If you have heightened intraocular pressure but haven't developed glaucoma yet, your eye doctor may prescribe medication to control your intraocular pressure.

4. Using Laser Therapy to Ease the Flow of Fluid in the Eye

Laser therapy is a minimally invasive treatment for glaucoma. It's often performed in the office and doesn't require surgery.

After numbing the eyes with eye drops, your Maryland Eye Associates ophthalmologist will shine a laser into your eye. Doing this targets drainage channels that are blocked off.

The laser increases the flow of aqueous out of the eye, lowering your intraocular pressure and slowing further optic nerve damage.

5. Undergoing Surgical Procedures to Manage More Severe Glaucoma

If you have moderate to severe glaucoma, you may require a surgical procedure to treat it. There are several different kinds of glaucoma procedures.

Some procedures create a hole in the eye, acting as another drainage channel, while others insert a tiny drainage device. Exactly what kind of surgery you'll have to treat your glaucoma depends on your specific needs.

However, most glaucoma surgeries are very effective in alleviating intraocular pressure and preventing further vision loss from glaucoma.

6. Your Eye Doctor Will Determine the Best Treatment Plan for Your Needs

If you have glaucoma, your eye doctor will develop a treatment plan that may involve a combination of these treatments. Almost all glaucoma patients use eye drops or take medication.

If you have a very mild case of glaucoma, you may not need further intervention yet. When you do need additional treatments, you will likely still need to take medication to lower your intraocular pressure.

Are you looking for the best glaucoma treatment options? Learn more by scheduling an appointment at Maryland Eye Associates in Prince Frederick, MD, to discuss the best glaucoma treatment options for you.