Yes. Immediate treatment for early stage, open-angle glaucoma can delay progression of the disease. That's why early diagnosis is very important.
Glaucoma treatments include medication, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.
Medication. Drugs, in the form of eye drops or (much less commonly) pills, are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Some drugs cause the eye to make less fluid. Others lower pressure by helping fluid drain from the eye.
Glaucoma drugs may be taken several times a day. Most people have no problems. However, some drugs can cause headaches or other side effects. For example, drops may cause stinging, burning, and redness in the eyes. Report these symptoms to your doctor so changes can be made in your treatment plan.
Because glaucoma often has no symptoms, people may be tempted to stop taking, or may forget to take, their medicine. You need to use the drops or pills for as long as they help control eye pressure. Regular use is very important.
Laser trabeculoplasty. Laser trabeculoplasty helps fluid drain out of the eye.
It is performed in your doctor's office or eye clinic. A high-intensity beam of light is aimed into the angle and onto the meshwork inside your eye. The laser leaves tiny evenly spaced burns that stretch the drainage holes in the meshwork. This allows the fluid to drain better.
Like any surgery, laser surgery can cause side effects, such as inflammation. Your doctor may give you some drops to take home for any soreness or inflammation inside the eye. Laser treatments -- if needed in both eyes -- may be scheduled several days to several weeks apart.
Studies show that laser surgery is very good at reducing the pressure in some patients. However, its effects can wear off over time. Your doctor may suggest further treatment and you may still need glaucoma eye drops after laser treatment.
Conventional surgery. Conventional surgery makes a new opening for the fluid to leave the eye. Your doctor may suggest this treatment at any time. Conventional surgery often is done after medication and laser surgery have failed to control pressure.
Conventional surgery is performed in an eye clinic or hospital. A small piece of tissue is removed to create a new channel for the fluid to drain from the eye.
For several weeks after the surgery, you must put drops in the eye to fight infection and inflammation. These drops will be different from those you may have been using before surgery.
As with laser surgery, conventional surgery is performed on one eye at a time. Usually the operations are four to six weeks apart.
Conventional surgery can have side effects, including cataracts, problems with the cornea, and inflammation or infection inside the eye. The buildup of fluid in the back of the eye may cause some patients to see shadows in their vision. If your vision changes or you have pain or discomfort, tell your doctor.