Everything’s Fluid Around Here
In patients with glaucoma, fluid called aqueous humor that normally circulates through the front of the eye becomes trapped. Drainage channels are constricted or completely blocked off, resulting in excess fluid inside the eye. Aqueous humor can cause pressure to build over time, damaging the nerves that relay ocular messages to the brain. The disease may bring about blindness in some or all of the eye as these nerves die.
Battling back against glaucoma
Drops are typically the first line of defense against glaucoma, either reducing the production of aqueous humor or helping fluid drain. These medications are usually only effective in mild and some moderate cases. If the condition has progressed too far, doctors may turn to surgery instead.
What’s the procedure here?
Ophthalmologists often turn to one of a few categories for glaucoma surgery in the eye – either with laser or incision. Each type of procedure comes with unique risks and benefits to consider.
Set lasers to drain
Laser treatments are minimally invasive and target the eye’s drainage passageways. Through a focused beam, the physician attempts to reopen congested passageways that allow fluid to exit properly once again. In some cases, a laser can be used to create a small hole in the iris to increase flow. These procedures usually take place in the clinic and take mere minutes to perform.
You’re a real cut up
In more severe cases, the eye doctor may have to create an incision on the eye to address the issue. Through that opening, the medical specialist will make adjustments to the eye’s drainage channels that fluid can escape through. Although still outpatient, patients will need to visit a surgery center and undergo the procedure in a sterile environment. Such a treatment can take upwards of an hour to complete.
Another option for keeping pressures in check is through the strategic placement of implants inside the eye. An incision is still required, but shunts or tubes can be placed to allow fluid to drain more easily from the eye. Surgeons may opt to place these devices during other glaucoma procedures or even cataract surgery.
Nothing lasts forever
Glaucoma surgery often does well in slowing or stopping damage by eliminating excess pressure inside the eye. Some patients may experience vast improvements in the condition, while others may be less successful. No matter the type of procedure performed, there’s no guarantee of a permanent solution to the problem.
Openings made through laser or incision can close over time, reverting conditions to a similar level as before the operation. When such an event happens, ophthalmologists may decide to repeat the procedure or perform a different type altogether. Routine visits are necessary for the doctor to monitor eye pressure and know when the time is right for treatment.