Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and cause a gradual loss of vision. The extent of vision loss can progress to total blindness if preventive measures are not taken in time to stop the progression of the disease.
Glaucoma can be classified into many types, but the most common form is known as open-angle glaucoma. Almost 95% of all glaucoma cases fall in this category, and it is the focus of this blog post.
The fact that any vision lost to the disease is permanent and the disease has no initial symptoms makes glaucoma one of the most dangerous eye diseases on a global scale today.
Most forms of glaucoma work in the same way, except for normal-tension glaucoma. The disease is linked to the build-up of a fluid known as aqueous humour in the eye.
Usually, the liquid is supposed to flow in and out of our eye through a mesh-like channel located in the front part of our eye. A blockage causes the build-up of the liquid in the draining channel of the eye. This blockage increases the intraocular pressure of the eye, which keeps damaging the optic nerve gradually over time, causing loss of vision.
Current Treatment Methods for Glaucoma
Even though Glaucoma cannot be completely “cured” as of date, further damage by the disease can be prevented. Current glaucoma treatment strategies focus on reducing the intraocular pressure of the eye to prevent further damage. Glaucoma treatment usually involves eye drops, laser, or surgery in extreme cases.
The most common treatment for Glaucoma is medication in the form of eye drops. Patients often are expected to use eye drops multiple times throughout the day to stop the progression of Glaucoma.
However, the problem with this approach is that a lot of patients are not disciplined enough with their eye drops as there is usually no pain associated with the disease or the progressing vision loss. It has been estimated that around 45% of glaucoma patients forget to use their daily medication, around 75% of the time!
Latest Developments in Glaucoma Treatment
The latest developments in Glaucoma Treatment can be broken down into three sections – medication, laser treatment, and surgery.
- Vyzulta and Rhopressa are two recent developments in glaucoma medication.
- Vyzulta is a modification of the current class of medications that are used in glaucoma treatment while Rhopressa is based on a new class of drugs that can be used in the treatment of glaucoma.
- Both Vyzulta and Rhopressa are meant to be taken only once a day, which can help patients maintain more discipline with their glaucoma medication.
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a relatively new glaucoma laser treatment option which reduces the intraocular pressure of the eye by stimulating the increased outflow of the liquid in the eye.
- It has an increased safety profile over other forms of laser treatment for glaucoma and can lower intraocular pressure by up to 30%.
- MIGS, or Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, is used to reduce intraocular pressure by enhancing the aqueous humour draining system of the eye.
- Recent developments in MIGS mean a better safety profile and more rapid recovery than traditional glaucoma surgery.
- MIGS can be performed as standalone procedures or done typically with cataract surgery in patients who suffer from both diseases.