GLAUCOMA TREATMENT

Glaucoma Treatment in Greater Annapolis 

For glaucoma treatment in the greater Annapolis region, contact the Ophthalmology Associates of Greater Annapolis. Conveniently located in Arnold, Maryland, our ophthalmologists are expertly trained to diagnose and help patients to manage the symptoms of glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

Many of those who have glaucoma do not initially experience symptoms. Because of this, it is very important to visit your optometrist for regular eye exams, particularly if you are at high risk for the disease. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness In the U.S., and vision loss caused by the disease is permanent and irreversible. Glaucoma is commonly referred to as ‘the silent thief of sight’, referring to the lack of symptoms and permanent vision loss caused by the disease. 

Glaucoma causes the optic nerve of the eye to degenerate, caused by a buildup of fluid within the eye. As fluid levels increase, the pressure in the eye is elevated and the nerve fibers become damaged over time. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain, and this nerve is crucial for vision. 

With early detection and diagnosis, the eye care specialists at Ophthalmology Associates of Greater Annapolis are able to help preserve and maintain your vision. 

Open-angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form the disease takes, which occurs gradually over time. IN cases of primary open-angle glaucoma, the cause of the pressure increase is the improper drainage of the aqueous humor from the eye. While symptoms do not manifest quickly, gradual loss of peripheral vision and tunnel vision are two symptoms caused by this type of glaucoma. 

Angle-closure Glaucoma 

Less common than open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is caused by a total blockage of drainage canals by the iris of the eye, similar to a plug clogging a sink drain. This type of glaucoma causes a rapid rise of intraocular pressure in the eye. 

Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma can occur at any age, and affect anyone. However, there are some factors that contribute to the likelihood of a glaucoma diagnosis:

  • Individuals forty years and older 
  • History of glaucoma in the family 
  • Being of African or Asian heritage 
  • Elevated eye pressure 
  • Having a thin cornea 
  • Being nearsighted 
  • Having experienced eye injury 
  • Use of steroids 
  • Diabetes
  • Migraines 
  • High blood pressure 

Glaucoma Treatment 

Glaucoma treatment comes in many forms. The disease can be managed with drops, pills, laser or traditional surgery, or through a combination of methods intended to manage the disease. If detected early, glaucoma can be very manageable and loss of sight can be prevented. 

It is important to take glaucoma medication exactly as prescribed to prevent long-term vision damage; your ophthalmologist will discuss what medications will best manage the disease, as well as potential side effects. 

Eye Drops

Eye drops are the most common medication used to regulate intraocular pressure and come in different types. Our ophthalmologists will work with you to determine what the best treatment option is for you and your lifestyle. 

  • Prostaglandins will increase drainage of aqueous humor in the eye.
  • Beta Blockers decrease the production of aqueous humor and increase drainage 
  • Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors decrease the production of aqueous humor 

To administer your eye drops for glaucoma, we recommend closing your eyes for 1-2 minutes after the drops are applied, and applying a finger to the inner corner of your eyelid to block your tear duct. This will help to ensure that the maximum amount of the drops are absorbed in the eye. 

Pills

In some instances, your ophthalmologist will prescribe pills in addition to drops. These pills are intended to reduce the production of aqueous humor (fluid) in the eye. 

Surgical Procedures

When medications do not achieve the desired results, or have intolerable side effects, your ophthalmologist may suggest surgery to help manage glaucoma symptoms. 

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery for the treatment and management of glaucoma has begun an increasingly popular choice for those who have glaucoma. Offered at Ophthalmology Associates of Greater Annapolis, the most common form of glaucoma surgery is trabeculoplasty. 

What is Trabeculoplasty?

Trabeculoplasty is a procedure for glaucoma treatment that is quick, painless, and often performed in-office or at an outpatient facility. Using a laser, the eye’s drainage system is modified to allow for the easy passage of aqueous fluids through the drain, lowering Intraocular Pressure. Your ophthalmologist will then check your IOP to assess the efficacy of the procedure several hours following, although it may take a few weeks for the IOP lowering impact to take full effect. In some cases, patients are able to discontinue some of their medications following trabeculoplasty, although this is not the case in all instances. Your doctor will help you to determine if any lifestyle changes are an option following trabeculoplasty. 

Trabeculoplasty has gained popularity in large part due to the low instance of complications. Different types of laser trabeculoplasty include:

  • Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty: Used for open-angle glaucoma 
  • Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty: Used for open-angle glaucoma 
  • Laser Peripheral Iridotomy: For angle-closure glaucoma 
  • Cycloablation

Traditional Glaucoma Surgeries

Trabeculectomy

If medications and laser therapies do not seem to adequately manage a patient’s glaucoma symptoms and intraocular pressure, your Annapolis eye doctor may recommend conventional surgery to further manage glaucoma symptoms. 

Trabeculectomy is the most common conventional surgery used for glaucoma and is used to help treat both open and closed-angle glaucomas. To perform a trabeculectomy, your ophthalmologist will create a passage in the sclera to drain excess aqueous fluids from the eye by creating a flap that allows fluid to escape.

In some instances, this hole may begin to close, and IOP begins to rise again. This occurs because the body attempts to heal the opening. Approximately half of those that undergo a trabeculectomy will no longer need to use glaucoma managing medications following their surgery for a time. 

A trabeculectomy is generally an outpatient eye procedure. Patients will be required to attend post-operative visits to our practice and will be advised to refrain from certain activities such as driving, reading, and rigorous activity, for two to four weeks following the procedure.

Drainage Implant Surgery

Multiple devices have been developed to aid the drainage of aqueous humor out of the anterior chamber in order to lower eye pressure for glaucoma patients. These generally take the form of a small silicone tube that extends into the anterior eye chamber and connects to several plates on the surface of the eye. 

These plates collect fluids, which is then absorbed by tissues in the eye to reduce intraocular pressure. 

Nonpenetrating Glaucoma Surgery

Non-penetrating glaucoma surgery has been a promising development in reducing post-operative complications and lowering the risk of infection from surgery. These procedures require great surgical acumen and typically do not yield as high reductions as other options for the lowering of IOP.

Long-term studies are needed to assess these procedures further. 

If you or a loved one have glaucoma and are seeking treatment options in the greater Annapolis region, contact our office to learn more about the glaucoma treatment options available with the Ophthalmology Associates of Greater Annapolis.