Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Will I find out about treatment at my glaucoma consultation?"
I am a 48 year old man with glaucoma. Are there other treatment options other than surgery?
Glaucoma is characterized by increased pressure due to poor flow of the fluid within the eye itself, and it is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. The increased pressure in the eye leads to damage of the optic nerve, the nerve that receives visual information. Glaucoma itself is much more common in men and women over 50 years old. An ophthalmologist can diagnose glaucoma by measuring the pressure in the eye and testing for damage to the optic nerve. Currently, there is no cure for glaucoma, but there are several nonsurgical treatment options that can help manage the disease. It is very important to be diagnosed as early as possible, because while there are good treatments for glaucoma, there is no way to reverse any nerve damage that may have already occurred. One of the most common forms of treatment is eye drops. There are several types of eye drops that work in different ways. First-line medications called beta-blockers and carbonic-anhydrase inhibitors work by decreasing the production of the fluid within the eye and prostaglandin-like compounds work by increasing the flow of the fluid out of the eye. There are several second-line and third-line eye drops as well that work in the same ways. If these agents are enough to control the pressure there are oral medications and even surgical options. Uncommonly there can be an abrupt stop to the outflow of the fluid in the eye which is a medical emergency. You should talk with your primary care physician or an ophthalmologist who can better evaluate your symptoms and determine if glaucoma might be the source.
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