Many people have glaucoma but don’t know it.
Glaucoma slowly damages the eye’s optic nerve, the important link between the eye and the brain. People with glaucoma usually lose vision before they notice any problems with their eyes.
The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma. This is when fluid in the eye does not drain properly. Pressure inside the eye goes up and damages the optic nerve. This form of glaucoma usually steals your side vision (peripheral vision) first, so you probably won’t notice changes in your vision right away. Over time, though, you’ll lose central vision and have trouble seeing things.
Unfortunately, you can’t get back any vision you lose from glaucoma. And ophthalmologists don’t yet know how to stop glaucoma from developing in the first place. However, there are ways to prevent serious vision loss and blindness from glaucoma. Hint: Regular eye exams play a big role in saving sight!
Glaucoma damage is permanent—it cannot be reversed. But medicine and surgery help to stop further damage. To treat glaucoma, your ophthalmologist may use one or more of the following treatments.
Glaucoma is usually controlled with eye drop medicine. Used every day, these eye drops lower eye pressure. Some do this by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid the eye makes. Others reduce pressure by helping fluid flow better through the drainage angle.
Glaucoma medications can help you keep your vision, but they may also produce side effects.
All medications can have side effects. Some drugs can cause problems when taken with other medications. It is important to give your doctor a list of every medicine you take regularly. Be sure to talk with your ophthalmologist if you think you may have side effects from glaucoma medicine.
Never change or stop taking your glaucoma medications without talking to your ophthalmologist. If you are about to run out of your medication, ask your ophthalmologist if you should have your prescription refilled.
There are two main types of laser surgery to treat glaucoma. They help aqueous drain from the eye. These procedures are usually done in the ophthalmologist’s office or an outpatient surgery center.