Glaucoma Gets On Your Nerves

Glaucoma is the result of an increase in eye pressure in the eye. This buildup damages the optic nerves that send visual messages to the brain. As these nerves die, patients with glaucoma begin to see black spots where images once were. The disease can destroy the entire nerve network if left unchecked, leaving the eye completely blind.

The plug on glaucoma

Aqueous humor is a fluid that helps give the eye a spherical shape. This liquid is also responsible for bringing nutrients to parts of the eye that don’t have blood vessels. After completing the mission, aqueous humor normally drains out of the eye through channels located between the iris and cornea. If the eye produces too much aqueous humor or those drainage channels become blocked, the potential for glaucoma occurs.

Trick or treatment

To keep glaucoma from causing damage to the optic nerve, an eye doctor may recommend one of a couple of different treatment options. Typically, physicians will first prescribe eye drops to treat the condition in a minimally invasive way. If eye drops aren’t effective, the next approach is usually a surgical procedure to bring pressure to a safe level.

You may have to drop me

When dealing with eye drops, there are two primary types that an ophthalmologist may look to for treatment. Prostaglandins work by opening drainage channels and increasing the flow of fluid from the eye. On the other hand, beta blockers decrease the amount of aqueous humor the eye produces. At times, these different types of drops can be used together to increase the odds of lowering tension in the eye. Still other medications called alpha agonists have the ability to perform both treatments with just one drop.

In many cases, eye drops are an effective solution for lowering pressure in the eye. If used early enough, these drops can prevent damage to the optic nerve and limit vision loss in the eye. Individuals typically have to use eye drops indefinitely to keep eye pressure from escalating again in the future.

Surgery is a drain

Eye drops cannot always get the job done, causing physicians to look to surgery for a solution. The doctor can pursue a few different surgical methods to reopen blocked drainage channels.


A trabeculoplasty is a laser procedure designed to target clogs in drainage passageways. A surgeon can clear away obstructions with the laser, allowing fluid to flow freely once again.


If the space between the iris and cornea where aqueous humor drains is too narrow, a bottleneck can occur. An iridotomy uses a laser beam to create a small hole in the iris that helps open up this area.

Tube Shunt

Similar to an iridotomy, a tube shunt can be placed in the iris near the area fluid drains from. This tube acts as an additional passageway for aqueous humor, reducing congestion.


Trabeculectomies are often performed in a surgery center under anesthesia. The surgeon makes a new, tiny opening in the eye during the procedure that allows fluid to drain away.

Nothing in life is certain

Each of these procedures is a low risk, but there is no guarantee of a successful outcome. Patients with a positive experience may even be able to do away with eye drops bring used before the surgery. Since damage caused by glaucoma is irreparable, patients should not hesitate to follow treatment plans as soon as possible.