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Glaucoma treatment

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:48 pm
Glaucoma (glah-CO-muh) is sometimes called the silent thief of vision. Once it's destroyed optic nerve fibers, no known treatment can reverse the damage, which can result in blindness. That's why early detection and treatment with medication, surgery, or both are important. Most cases of glaucoma can be controlled with a single drug or drug combinations. However, the drugs used to treat glaucoma can have severe side effects, and many of them interact adversely with common medications, so you should discuss these issues with your eye doctor. Some people choose surgery over medications because side effects from surgery are usually temporary and cause no long-term problems, while those from medications may be ongoing. Surgery for glaucoma is either filtration surgery, which uses conventional surgical techniques, or laser surgery. Laser surgery performed as the initial treatment for glaucoma can be as effective as medications. However, even surgery doesn't cure glaucoma, and your chances are fifty- fifty that you'll require medication within two years. Some lifestyle changes can help you manage glaucoma. Regular, ongoing exercise can help reduce intraocular (in-truh-OCK-you-lur) pressure. Vitamin supplements can't prevent or treat the disease, but vitamin E does improve visual fields. Large amounts of caffeine drunk in a short period of time can elevate eye pressure, so you may wish to eliminate or limit your caffeine intake. Meditation, biofeedback, and relaxation methods can help counteract stress and may help you if you have open-angle glaucoma. A number of herbal and nontraditional remedies have been advertised as glaucoma remedies, but you should be very cautious about such treatments and discuss them with your doctor.
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