Answers by Mitchell Gossman, MD, an ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, located in St. Cloud
What can I do about my glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that is associated with abnormally high pressure in the eye. It’s not caused by, or associated with high blood pressure. There are many kinds of glaucoma, but the most common kind is “primary open angle glaucoma.”
Glaucoma is treated by lowering the pressure in the eye to a safe level. How low does the pressure need to be? That depends on a lot of factors, such as age, how high the pressure was to begin with, how severe the glaucoma is, and much more.
The most important way to avoid glaucoma damage to your vision is has nothing to do with pressure, but I’ll save that fact for the end of this article. These are the methods we have to lower eye pressure:
1. Laser procedures, some in the office, some in the operating room.
2. Eyedrops, either alone, or multiple kinds of drops in combination.
3. Surgery. Since laser procedures are also “surgery,” ophthalmologists refer to surgery in the operating room as “incisional surgery.” There are so many options for surgery in the operating room that it’s not possible to list them in this article. What can I do about my glaucoma?
4. A combination of all three methods. Generally, incisional surgery is not the best initial treatment because of the risks and inconvenience involved, and because more conservative treatments such as eyedrops and lasers are successful in most cases.
But the most important way to stay out of trouble with vision loss from glaucoma is to be seen by an eye specialist. Your primary care physician can do many things at annual checkups, but they will be the first to say that they can’t screen for glaucoma.
So, top priority is to have periodic eye exams to screen for glaucoma, even if you see fine. Glaucoma in its early stages has absolutely no symptoms, you don’t know you have it, and once you start to notice loss of vision it’s almost always far advanced and more difficult to treat.
The next most important thing is, once you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, to keep your followup appointments to keep things under control. All treatments that initially work can sometimes stop working, so alternative treatments have to be started.
If you do those two things, the chances are good that your glaucoma will be kept under control and you’ll enjoy good vision for life.
Find out more
Dr. Mitchell Gossman is a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. The office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email email@example.com.
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