General Eye Care

Glaucoma Procedures

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. Sometimes called the silent thief of sight, glaucoma can damage your vision so gradually you don’t notice any loss of vision until the disease is at an advanced stage. Glaucoma is an eye condition that develops when too much fluid pressure builds up inside of the eye. This increase in pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.

Because most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from this increased pressure, it is important to have regular routine eye exams so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs.

There are two main types of glaucoma:

Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the drain of the eye, called the trabecular meshwork.

Angle-closure glaucoma: This type of glaucoma is less common, but can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. Drainage may be poor because the angle between the iris and the cornea (where a drainage channel for the eye is located) is too narrow. Or, the pupil opens too wide, narrowing the angle and blocking the flow of the fluid through that channel.

Please consult with an ophthalmologist regarding glaucoma treatment options. Your AVI ophthalmologist will be able to diagnose the type of glaucoma and the actual severity of the Intraocular Pressure (IOP). Treatment options will drastically vary from patient to patient.

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Treatment for Glaucoma

Medications:

Glaucoma is typically treated with eye drops that decrease eye pressure either by slowing the amount of fluid produced within the eye or by improving the flow through the drainage angle. Glaucoma medications may produce side effects, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Surgery:

Trabeculectomy is a surgical procedure performed by an ophthalmologist used to lower eye pressure. By trying to lower the eye pressure, damage can be halted from further pressure increases, but that damage already done is not reversible.
The trabeculectomy procedure involves the surgeon creating a tiny passageway from the inside to the outside of your eye. This helps fluid drain better from the areas it is presently not draining. Trabeculectomy can lower the pressure in your eye and help prevent more damage to the optic nerve. Trabeculectomy is more commonly used after other treatment options have not been successful or are simply not stopping the increasing IOP (Intraocular Pressure). Your Virginia eye surgeon may consider trabeculectomy if:

    • Medicines do not work as planned
    • Laser surgery to lower the eye pressure has not worked

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is quickly becoming a widely accepted treatment option in glaucoma treatment. SLT offers a new glimpse of hope for glaucoma patients. By engaging in this new laser technology, the ophthalmologists can now lower pressure that can possibly help a patient avoid a more invasive surgery. The surgery might even reduce the dependence on medications or drops.

SLT is an advanced laser system that improves the flow of fluid in the eye, lowering intraocular pressure (IOP) for patients who have glaucoma. SLT uses short pulses of low energy laser light to target melanin-containing cells in a network of tiny channels, called the trabecular meshwork. The objective of the surgery is to help fluids drain out of the eye, reducing intra-ocular pressure that can cause damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.