There’s Nothing Funny About Glaucoma

The eye is full of delicate components that all work together to allow sight. Many of these parts must remain clear and, as a result, are devoid of blood vessels. In the front of the eye, aqueous humor provides nutrition to areas that blood vessels can’t reach. The substance also keeps the anterior segment of the eye clean and adequately pressurized. When this system starts to break down, glaucoma enters the scene.

The pressure is unbearable

Aqueous humor is designed to flow out of the eye through narrow pathways called the trabecular meshwork. Should these passageways become obstructed, the aqueous humor is unable to exit the front portion of the eye as intended. This results in a buildup of pressure inside the eye, causing a disease known as glaucoma. As this pressure builds inside the eye, the nerve that sends visual information to the brain can become damaged. Such damage can lead to permanent vision loss.

Are you open or closed?

In less common cases, the trabecular meshwork can become completely blocked. The resulting spike in eye pressure, called closed-angle glaucoma, comes with intense pain and discomfort. These conditions need to be treated immediately by an eye doctor. More often than not, the trabecular meshwork becomes partially blocked and slows the drainage of aqueous humor. This brings about a gradual and often asymptomatic form of glaucoma termed open-angle glaucoma. Regular visits to an eye surgeon are imperative for catching the disease before effects are irreversible.

It’s time to fight back

Whether open or closed-angle glaucoma, the first form of attack against the disease is almost always eye drops. Not every eye drop for glaucoma functions the same way. An ophthalmologist will choose the best medication to suit a patient’s specific needs. Some medications to fight glaucoma will increase the flow of aqueous humor, while others reduce the amount the eye produces. There are also medications that do both, and an eye specialist may suggest multiple drops simultaneously.

‘Til death do us part?

There is no cure for glaucoma, but measures can be taken to stop the disease from worsening. Eye drops that a physician prescribes are essential in keeping eye pressures at bay. Often, these medications are enough to regulate eye pressures so patients can live a normal life. Unless a healthcare professional implements another form of treatment, glaucoma drops do have to be taken for life.

You can cut the tension with a knife

When eye drops are not working as intended, an eye surgeon may next turn to surgery. By laser, incision, or even by means of a stent, the ophthalmologist can create artificial areas for drainage. These new avenues are designed to allow fluid to leave the eye and restore pressures to pre-glaucoma levels. Although the eye still needs to be closely monitored, a successful procedure can reduce or eliminate reliance on drops.