Glaucoma is a serious medical condition where fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, putting excess pressure in the eye and on the optic nerve. This pressure eventually damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. The disease has no obvious symptoms in its early stages, although as it develops some people notice blind spots in their normal field of vision. It is important to be tested for glaucoma on a regular basis as part of an annual eye exam as the disease can be treated if caught in its early stages.
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
Glaucoma can be treated with medication, laser or surgically to reduce the pressure, although it is more common for the disease to be treated surgically to reduce the pressure in the eye. The doctors at the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group may use the following procedures and surgeries to alleviate the condition:
- Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery with iStent
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
- Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI)
- Trabeculectomy / Filtering surgery
Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery with iStent
Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery is a procedure in which a device called the iStent is implanted in the eye during cataract surgery to help control the increased pressure in your eye associated with glaucoma. The iStent is the world’s smallest implantable medical device. Just 1mm in length and less than 0.3mm in height, it would take 19 iStents to match the width of a penny!
It creates a bypass between the front part of your eye and its natural drainage pathway to increase the flow of fluid. This increase in the eye’s ability to drain fluid, safely lowering the eye pressure.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (or SLT) is a laser surgery that uses a combination of frequencies allowing the laser to work at very low levels. It treats specific cells and leaves untreated portions of the mesh-like drainage canals surrounding the iris intact. SLT, unlike other types of laser surgery, may be safely repeated many times. SLT may also be an alternative for those who have been treated unsuccessfully with traditional laser surgery or with pressure-lowering eye drops.
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy
Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (or LPI) is an effective treatment for narrow angles, narrow-angle glaucoma, and acute angle closure glaucoma. When LPI is used in patients with narrow angles, it is considered to be a preventive procedure that reducing the risk developing acute angle closure glaucoma. Acute angle closure glaucoma symptoms are a sudden pain in the eye or around the eye with redness and blurred vision.
Trabeculectomy/ Filtering Surgery
This is a surgical treatment for glaucoma that is used when medication or laser surgeries do not adequately lower pressure in the eye. In this surgery, a tiny drainage hole is made in the white of the eye to relieve intraocular pressure by removing part of the eye’s trabecular meshwork. The new drainage hole allows excess fluid to leave the eye and helps lower eye pressure, preventing or reducing damage to the optic nerve.