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A diagnosis of glaucoma can be quite frightening. A leading cause of blindness in older adults, glaucoma results when too much pressure is exerted on the optic nerve in the eye. The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle, happens gradually, with generally no signs or symptoms to let you know there is a problem. It doesn't hurt, and initially, there is no vision loss. Therefore, it's important to have regular eye checkups, even if you don't wear glasses or think you have any issues with your eyes. Primary open-angle glaucoma is basically like a clogged kitchen sink that drains slowly.
The other type of glaucoma is "closed-angle glaucoma." If the drain pipe is close to the colored part of the eye, the iris, a complete clog can happen, allowing no drainage whatsoever. You may suddenly experience severe eye pain, blurriness, loss of vision, a headache, and nausea with vomiting. The intense eye pressure can quickly cause permanent blindness, and this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.
Glaucoma is not curable, but it is treatable. Surgery and medications can help slow the disease's progression. Here are the current glaucoma treatment options ophthalmologists use.
Some daily drops work by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid the eye produces to begin with. Other eye drops work by decreasing the pressure by helping the drain work better. Unfortunately, they are not without side effects. The eye drops can cause dry, red, and irritated eyes. The skin around your eyes is very delicate, and it may become swollen and sore. Blurred vision and excess eyelash growth are other common side effects. People with respiratory problems and asthma may have increased breathing difficulties. Additionally, some patients suffer from decreased energy, dry mouth, increased heart palpitations, and a rapid pulse.
Both traditional surgery and laser surgery can be used to treat glaucoma. Laser surgery can be used to treat both primary open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. With primary open-angle glaucoma, the laser is used to create a wider drain opening. With closed-angle glaucoma, the laser makes a small hole in the iris, allowing the fluid to drain rather than buildup.
With traditional surgery, glaucoma is treated by rerouting the fluid with a miniscule tube, allowing the excess fluid to drain into a reservoir. The body then reabsorbs the fluid from this pool. Your ophthalmologist will decide which treatment option is best for your situation.