Glaucoma is an eye disease which is one of the most common causes of blindness in the United States. Loss of site is caused by increased internal fluid pressure in the interior of the eye that damages the very delicate optic nerve, but there're the transmits the image that you see from your eye the brain.
It is often called the thief of sight because the damage to the eyes very gradual, painless and in the vast majority of patients it is not noticed until very far advanced. If detected early in the course it is a very treatable problem however once the damage is done at cannot be reversed. Preventative care is critical.
Eyedrops, administered every day, improve the outflow of fluid from the interior of the eye and were the original form of treatment of glaucoma. For some people this can be a very effective form of therapy. However this therapy can be very demanding of the time and effort involved in placing the drops in your eyes at the appropriate intervals accurately every day for the rest of your life. In addition to being expensive and sometimes causing significant eye irritation and blurred vision, rare serious side effects can occur. These types of problems are a significant part of the reason that in spite of the fact that eyedrops have been available for many decades, glaucoma is still one of the leading causes of blindness in the US.
In the 1970s, laser treatments were pioneered as an additional treatment for glaucoma and were quickly proven to be as effective as drop therapy for many individuals. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty therapy was also shown to have many advantages over traditional drop therapy such as reliability, comfort, convenience, long duration of effect and less expense over the long run. This type of Laser treatment typically requires only one office visit and for the vast majority of individuals gives a treatment effect which lasts for years. And there are no long-term side effects or complications of laser treatment.
Because of the success of laser treatment other types of therapies have been introduced through the years in order to improve the success of glaucoma treatment.
Endocyclophotocoagulation laser treatment or ECP is a different form of laser treatment which can also be used to treat glaucoma by reducing the inflow of fluid to the interior of the eye.
The iStent is a microscopically small device which can be implanted in the eye to bypass the tissue that causes the poor outflow of the internal fluid of the eye.
Both ECP and the iStent are frequently combined with cataract surgery. Since both cataracts and glaucoma both tend to occur in more mature individuals the combination of these treatments gives immediate improvement in vision from the removal of the cataract and long-term preservation of that vision by reduction in the risk of further damage by glaucoma.
Because of the improvements in technology to the years glaucoma therapy can be much more effective, comfortable and convenient. It is important to discuss these options with your doctor in order to best taylor these treatments to your particular needs.
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