Glaucoma Treatment

How your glaucoma is treated will depend on your specific type of glaucoma, the severity of your disease and how it responds to treatment.

Glaucoma medication

Medicated eyedrops are the most common way to treat glaucoma. These medications lower your eye pressure in one of two ways — either by slowing the production of aqueous humor or by improving the flow through the drainage angle.

These eyedrops must be taken every day. Just like any other medication, it is important to take your eyedrops regularly as prescribed by your ophthalmologist.

Never change or stop taking your medications without talking with your doctor. If you are about to run out of your medication, ask your doctor if you should have it refilled.

Glaucoma surgery

In some patients with glaucoma, surgery is recommended. Glaucoma surgery improves the flow of fluid out of the eye, resulting in lower eye pressure.

A surgery called laser trabeculoplasty is often used to treat open-angle glaucoma. There are two types of trabeculoplasty surgery: argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT).

During ALT surgery, a laser makes tiny, evenly spaced burns in the trabecular meshwork. The laser does not create new drainage holes, but rather stimulates the drain to function more efficiently.

With SLT, a low level energy laser targets specific cells in the mesh-like drainage channels using very short applications of light. The treatment has been shown to lower eye pressure at rates comparable to ALT.

Even if laser trabeculoplasty is successful, most patients continue taking glaucoma medications after surgery. For many, this surgery is not a permanent solution. Nearly half who receive this surgery develop increased eye pressure again within five years. Many people who have had a successful laser trabeculoplasty have a repeat treatment.

Laser iridotomy is recommended for treating people with closed-angle glaucoma and those with very narrow drainage angles. A laser creates a small hole about the size of a pinhead through the top part of the iris to improve the flow of aqueous fluid to the drainage angle. This hole is hidden from view by the upper eyelid.

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