If you've been diagnosed with glaucoma, one of the first things your eye doctor is likely to recommend is taking a medication, such as a prostaglandin or a beta blocker, to reduce the pressure behind your eyes. While these medications work well for many people, there are patients who do not tolerate them well. These patients may experience eye redness and burning, depression, fatigue, shortness of breath, and changes in blood pressure, among other side effects.
When you've tried several different glaucoma medications and cannot seem to find one that treats your condition without making you feel miserable, it might be time to consider an alternative. The following are non-drug treatments that help many patients fight glaucoma.
This new treatment option involves using a little device to relieve the pressure behind the eyes associated with glaucoma. Inserted through a simple surgical procedure, the stent is so small that patients do not see or feel it after surgery. Generally, it is recommended for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma; its not very effective for those with advanced glaucoma.
The stent, known as the iStent, was approved in 2012 and is considered to be on the forefront of glaucoma treatment technology. It was created with the goal of reducing patients' needs for glaucoma medications, and if your eye doctor decides you're a candidate for the iStent, you can count on it doing just that.
This is a more traditional surgical procedure your eye doctor may recommend if your glaucoma is more advanced. It involves creating a small hole in the eye, through which excess ocular fluid can drain. Allowing the fluid to drain relieves the pressure in the eye. The fluid accumulates in a tiny blister where the white of the eye meets the iris.
If you have a trabeculectomy performed, you will need to regularly visit your eye doctor after the surgery so he or she can keep checking to make sure the fluid is draining properly. You will likely need to apply topical antibiotics or corticosteroids to the eye for a month or two after surgery. There is some discomfort during the recovery process, but there should not be severe pain.
A similar procedure, called laser iridotomy, may also be used to create a similar drainage point in the front of the eye. This procedure differs from a trabeculectomy in that it uses a laser, rather than a blade, to create the drainage point. Whether your doctor recommends a laser iridotomy or trabeculectomy will depend on your personal health, the shape of your eyes, and the severity of your glaucoma.
This procedure also aims to drain the eye in an effort to lower ocular pressure, but it differs from the trabeculectomy because the drainage points are created in a different part of the eye. Instead of making a hole in or near the iris, the eye doctor widens and expands the natural canals, known as the trabecular network, through which the fluid drains from the eye. A laser is used to ensure the procedure is performed precisely.
Since this surgical procedure is rather simple to perform, it is often the first one an eye doctor will try in a patient who is not tolerating medications well. However, it is not usually a permanent solution. Eye pressure decreases after the surgery but tends to creep back up again as time passes. The procedure may then need to be repeated.
If your glaucoma medications are making you feel miserable, talk to your eye doctor about your other treatment options. The surgical procedures above have helped many patients reduce their reliance on glaucoma medications. Based on your medical history and eye structure, your eye doctor can recommend the one that's best for you. Check out sites like http://www.checdocs.org for more information.