If you’re old enough, you may remember the Queen and David Bowie song titled Under Pressure. While you may like that tune coming up in your Spotify feed, you don’t want elevating pressure in your eyes.
That increase in pressure is glaucoma, and it can permanently damage your vision.
Dr. Groat helps patients with elevated intraocular pressure lower and manage their condition with eyedrops and possibly surgery. Here’s more information about glaucoma.
What causes open-angle glaucoma?
The most common form of glaucoma is known as open-angle glaucoma. Our eyes have fluid inside them that keeps them healthy. This fluid changes with new fluid replacing the old, and the old fluid needs to exit the eye. That’s where the term “angle” comes in — there is a drainage angle formed by the cornea and the iris of your eyes. In this form of glaucoma, this angle remains open, but the trabecular meshwork through which the fluid drains has developed some sort of blockage or your eye can be producing too much fluid and there is a backup in the outflow. Both situations cause the pressure to rise in your eye; this is open-angle glaucoma.
Open angle is the form of glaucoma most patients develop. This is different from closed-angle glaucoma where the iris bulges forward to narrow or block the drainage angle formed by the cornea and the iris.
How is open-angle glaucoma treated?
Once Dr. Groat has diagnosed a patient’s glaucoma, it’s important to quickly begin lowering the pressure inside the eye caused by the buildup of fluid. The goal is to prevent additional vision damage.
The first treatment option is prescription eye drops. Beyond that, surgery may be necessary to improve fluid drainage. These are the treatment options:
Eye drops — There are now a variety of different eye drop options for glaucoma treatment, depending on how your eyes respond. Some of these eye drops increase outflow of the aqueous fluid. Others seek to reduce production of fluid in the eye. Many people don’t comply with their dosages and the need for consistent application of their eye drops. This is the leading cause of continued damage to the optic nerve. This lack of urgency can be attributed to the fact that that the patient isn’t experiencing any pain or symptoms.
Surgery — With surgery the goal is to improve fluid drainage within the eye.
- Laser therapy: There are three options for laser surgery for glaucoma: laser trabeculoplasty, iridotomy, and cyclophotocoagulation. These procedures seek to increase outflow of fluid in the eye or to eliminate blockages in the trabecular meshwork.
- Filtering: In a trabeculectomy, part of the trabecular meshwork is removed to enhance drainage.
- Drainage tubes: Small tubes are inserted, usually through the trabecular meshwork, to open flow.
- Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery: These various techniques are used to lower eye pressure, generally with lower risk and easier recovery.
The building intraocular pressure of glaucoma isn’t something you feel or sense. That’s why you need to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams every year or two after you turn 50 (or sooner if you’re at risk for glaucoma). Then, if your eye doctor sees signs of glaucoma, you need to call Dr. Groat at Cape Fear, (910) 769-4590, and get started on treatment.