How Far Glaucoma Treatment Has Come: Then and Now

An eye doctor performs an eye exam on a female patient

Glaucoma is treated by lowering eye pressure. Today, this can be done in a variety of ways, including oral medications, prescription eye drops, laser treatments, surgery, or a combination of these treatments. 

Prescription eye drops can help by either decreasing the amount of fluid the eye makes or improving how the fluid drains from the eye. These medications will typically include: 

  • Beta-blockers
  • Prostaglandins
  • Rho-kinase inhibitor
  • Miotic or cholinergic agents
  • Alpha-adrenergic agonists
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors

When medication isn’t enough, doctors will recommend treatment or surgical options. 

Laser trabeculoplasty is a therapy that is used for patients with open-angle glaucoma. This treatment uses a small laser beam to open up clogged trabecular network pathways. After the procedure is performed, it might take several weeks for the full effect to be noticeable. 

Surgical procedures are also a common option for patients today. Depending on the needs of the patient, surgeons may recommend the installation of drainage tubes, a filtering procedure, or minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (also referred to as MIGS). 

Some common surgical procedures and their history include: 

  • In 2005, a SOLX clinical trial was initiated as a new glaucoma treatment and is now an FDA approved procedure in which a surgeon places a shunt into the eye chamber to drain fluid.
  • In 2007, iStent was introduced and approved by the FDA in 2012. The iStent procedure involves the surgeon creating two bypasses between the front of the eye and the natural pathway for eye drainage, which increases fluid flow and decreases IOP.
  • Ex-PRESS shunt has been available since 2002 and is a shunt that drains aqueous humor, similar to a trabeculectomy procedure, but without any removal of sclera or iris tissue.
  • A trabeculectomy is considered the “gold standard” procedure for modern glaucoma treatments and was first developed in the mid-1960s.  This is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon makes a small hole in the sclera (eyewall), which restores the eye’s ability to drain aqueous humor and lower the IOP.

The history of glaucoma and its treatments is extensive. While the impact of glaucoma can’t be reversed, if caught in its early stages you can effectively slow or prevent serious vision loss. If you are experiencing symptoms of glaucoma or have a family history of the condition, contact the skilled team of experienced ophthalmologists at Florida Eye Specialists.   

Call Florida Eye Specialists will be ready to review your medical history and conduct a comprehensive eye exam when you call us today at 904-564-2020 or complete an appointment request form online.