If you doctor recommends a surgical procedure for glaucoma, it helps to know what questions to ask so you can decide what treatment is best. Medications, lasers, and surgical treatments could all be potentially used in various stages of glaucoma. Evaluating different treatment options can be challenging since there are so many different choices.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Even if you are set on one treatment option, it helps to know about the different choices you have.
Medications: There are several benefits to medications, including easy tolerability and lower intervention. There are also side effects, which can be a downside, and medication can be expensive depending on your prescription coverage.
Laser: This can relieve you from having to take eye drops and has few side effects. It’s also effective. There are risks with any procedure and unfortunately, it’s not a cure. The effects of the laser do tend to wear off over time.
Surgery: Surgical treatment has usually been reserved for patients with glaucoma that can’t be controlled by a laser or medications. Now with newer, minimally invasive techniques, surgery can be used for many different patients. Surgery may be an option for patients who have early to moderate open angle glaucoma.
What Is the Goal of Treatment?
The goal of any treatment is to slow the progression of glaucoma. The only treatment option for glaucoma is to lower eye pressure and this can be done with ether a surgical procedure for glaucoma, medications, or laser. The more holistic goal of treatment is to slow the progression using treatment that has fewer side effects and doesn’t disrupt your quality of life.
What Are the Side Effects of Treatments?
All treatments have side effects and it’s important to know what those side effects are before you begin. Medications can cause eye redness, irritation, and eyelash growth and thickening. The medications can also darken the iris of blue-eyed patients and cause eyelid darkening.
What Are the Success Rates of Treatment?
Various treatments have different levels of effectiveness. Some treatments will be more effective. For example, eye pressure decreases more after cataract surgery for patients with narrow angles instead of open angles.
Are There New Treatments Coming Down the Pipeline?
The last few years have seen new surgical procedures that are less invasive and there are new methods to lower eye pressure. You may be a candidate for different procedures depending on your situation.
What Treatment Would You Choose?
This is a simple but useful question to ask. The answer may not always be straightforward. Ophthalmologists still have preferences or experience that could push them toward one treatment versus another so it helps to know what procedure an ophthalmologist would choose if he or she was in your situation.