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Treatment options for Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a slowly progressive eye condition in which the optic nerve, the one responsible for vision is damaged. It is often caused by increased pressure within the eye. Though it is more common in elderly population, it can occur in any age. Glaucoma is one of the leading cause for irreversible blindness across the world. In many patients glaucoma progresses very slowly and without any symptoms in the initial stages. 

There are different types of glaucoma, but the two major types are

1.Open angle glaucoma : There is a clear fluid within the eye called Aqueous Humour which is secreted within the eye and drained out of the eye through drainage channels at a constant rate. In open angle glaucoma the drainage angles remain open but become less efficient. This leads to gradual build up of pressure which damages the optic nerve over a period of time

2.Angle closure glaucoma : This type of glaucoma occurs when the drainage channels within the eye is blocked or narrowed, preventing the fluid to drain out of the eye. This can suddenly increase the pressure within the eye, unlike the open angle type and often results pain, redness , watering and decrease in vision. 

The treatment of glaucoma typically depends on the type of glaucoma and also the severity and degree of optic nerve damage. This can be assessed by a glaucoma specialist through clinical examination and some special tests. The important goal is to keep the pressure well within normal range to prevent further damage to optic nerve. The common treatment options include

1.Eye Drops : These are the first line of treatment to reduce the pressure within the eye. There are different groups of medications available for glaucoma patients. Some are useful to reduce the secretion of the clear fluid, Aqueous Humor within the eye. Some drops increase the drainage of the fluid and thereby reduce the pressure. Patients need one or more groups of drops to control the pressure. 

2.Laser therapy : Glaucoma laser treatment can be used to increase the drainage of fluid. It is a simple, day care procedure and doesn’t need admission. Consult a best ophthalmologist in chennai for the best treatment

3.Glaucoma surgery :  Often the drops will reduce the pressure to the desired levels. But for some patients glaucoma surgery is necessary to control the pressure. Different types of surgical procedures available depending on the type of glaucoma and the severity of pressure and nerve damage. The recent additions in the surgical options are the MIGS i.e Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery which has gained considerable popularity due to their less invasive approach.

It is very important for everyone beyond the age of 40 years to undergo annual eye check up with an eye specialist to detect the presence of glaucoma. People with history of glaucoma in their family are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. Early detection is the key to prevent the occurrence of damage to the optic nerve. Since glaucoma is mostly symptomless, very often it is missed till late stages due to lack of regular check up. Once glaucoma is diagnosed and treatment is started by the eye specialist, it is crucial to follow up regularly to  monitor the pressure levels at regular intervals. 

Once the optic nerve is damaged, it is irreversible but timely treatment including drops, laser procedures or surgery can prevent additional damage to the nerve and help the patients to maintain the vision. 

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Written by Kamalishiv

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