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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can gradually worsen vision. It occurs when fluid accumulates in the eye, putting pressure on the optic nerve. This nerve sends signals from the eye to the brain so you can see. 

If glaucoma isn’t treated, the extra pressure can damage the optic nerve, causing permanent vision loss. This vision loss will start at the edges of the vision and move inwards.

Glaucoma typically affects both eyes but each eye can develop symptoms at different rates.

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection leads to early treatment and management of the condition. Medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss, and the appropriate treatment depends on the type of glaucoma present.

Two Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Both cause intraocular pressure. 

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. With this condition, the drainage angle of your eye between the iris and cornea remains open, but the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time. This causes a gradual increase in intraocular pressure. 

Angle-Closure Glaucoma 

In angle-closure glaucoma, the drainage angle between your iris and cornea becomes blocked or closed, preventing fluid in your eye from draining properly. This causes a rapid increase in intraocular pressure.

Angle-closure glaucoma can come on quickly and cause severe symptoms such as eye pain, headache, nausea, and blurred vision. It is less common than primary open-angle glaucoma but can cause rapid vision loss if left untreated.

Common Symptoms and Warning Signs of Glaucoma

Glaucoma develops incrementally, and most people won’t notice the symptoms in the early stages. Early detection is critical to stopping the progress of glaucoma. Most patients won’t notice the early warning signs of glaucoma until they’ve experienced irreversible damage to their vision. 

The most common symptom of glaucoma is increased pressure inside the eye, however as the condition progresses, you might begin to notice:

To give yourself the best chance of catching early warning signs, schedule an eye exam at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons in Duluth, GA. Prompt treatment can help to prevent further damage to your eyesight.

Treating Glaucoma at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons

Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons offers a range of advanced treatments for glaucoma. Following a comprehensive consultation, your ophthalmologist will work with you to find the best option. 

The best option is determined based on the type and stage of glaucoma you’re experiencing, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)

Selective laser trabeculoplasty is a type of laser treatment that aims to increase fluid outflow from the eye or eliminate fluid blockages. Your eye surgeon at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons will use short pulses of low-energy light to target the drainage area of your eye. 

This procedure helps fluid drain, reducing pressure on the optic nerve. Selective laser trabeculoplasty takes just a few minutes and is not painful. The treatment can often delay or eliminate the need for daily glaucoma eye drops. 

Cyclophotocoagulation Laser (CPC) 

Cyclophotocoagulation is an alternative type of laser treatment to selective laser trabeculoplasty. Rather than increasing the outflow of fluid from your eye, cyclophotocoagulation reduces the amount of fluid your eye produces. Cyclophotocoagulation is often a good option if your glaucoma is advanced or if your results with other treatments haven’t been satisfactory. 

During the cyclophotocoagulation treatment, your eye surgeon will use a laser to alter the ciliary body, which is the part of your eye that produces fluid. Cyclophotocoagulation is a painless procedure, however you will need to use anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few weeks afterward.

Eye Drops

Eye drops are the most common and often first attempted treatment option for glaucoma. Eye drops can lower your eye pressure in one of two ways:

  1. By decreasing the amount of fluid your eye produces
  2. By helping fluid drain from your eye more effectively

Your eye doctor at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons will work with you to find the type of eye drops and the dosing schedule that best suits your eyes. Once prescribed, you should use the drops exactly as intended to control your eye pressure and prevent vision loss from glaucoma. 

Oral Pills

If eye drops alone aren’t adequately controlling your eye pressure, your eye doctor may prescribe pills taken by mouth. Like eye drops, oral medications seek to increase the fluid drainage from your eye or decrease production altogether. 

Most common glaucoma pills contain a drug called acetazolamide. This drug can help lower eye pressure, but patients should be aware of potential side effects such as fatigue, numbness, and tingling.

What is MIGS? (Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery)

MIGS refers to a newer category of glaucoma procedures that may be more appropriate for those with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma. MIGS are sometimes performed in conjunction with other treatments such as cataract surgery.

There are several types of MIGS, so your eye doctor at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons will work with you to decide which treatment is best for you. 

Similar to other glaucoma treatments, your eye doctor will propose MIGS to either improve the fluid drainage or reduce fluid production in your eye.

MIGS are often a better choice for patients due to their smaller instruments and minimally invasive incision. This means there’s less risk, and most patients experience an easier recovery process compared to traditional glaucoma procedures. 

Glaucoma is best managed through an engaged partnership with your eye doctor. Scheduling regular eye exams, completing your prescribed course of medication, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can all help you manage your symptoms and protect your vision. 

Glaucoma Specialists

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Do you have glaucoma and require treatment? Schedule an appointment at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons in Duluth, GA, to learn more.
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