DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT FOR GLAUCOMA
Early treatment of glaucoma may help to prevent further damage and visual loss. The patient should see an eye specialist who will be able to determine if glaucoma is present and to assess its severity. The assessment for glaucoma involves measuring the intraocular pressure, examining the optic nerve head and carrying out a visual field examination. The visual field examination is a sensitive test to assess the patient’s peripheral vision as well as central vision. A thorough check of the eye is also carried out which will help exclude other cause of glaucoma
There is no cure for glaucoma but in most cases it can be successfully controlled with medical or surgical treatment. Patients will require long-term follow-up to ensure that the glaucoma control is adequate. Depending on the severity of glaucoma, the treatment usually involves eye drop medication as the first line. There are many types of medication that can help with glaucoma control and your eye specialist will determine the most appropriate one or combination for you.
Laser treatment can help certain forms of glaucoma, particularly angle-closure glaucoma. In this case, a small opening in the coloured part of the eye (iris) is made using lasers to create a bypass channel for fluid to exit. It is performed as a simple outpatient procedure which only takes a few minutes to complete. This is performed for the eye with the condition as well as the opposite eye as a preventive measure.
In the situation where medication does not optimally control the glaucoma, surgical treatment in the form of a filtering operation (trabeculectomy) may help to further improve the glaucoma control.
The Importance of Regular Follow-Up
Because central vision is affected last, patients should not rely on how well they can see as a measure of their glaucoma control. The adequacy of glaucoma control can only be determined by your eye doctor, and regular follow-up is essential in ensuring that the glaucoma control is optimal and in picking up early progression of the disease so that appropriate treatment may be instituted. The visual loss in glaucoma is irreversible, which is why early detection and treatment is so important in preventing blindness.