What are the Different Types of Glaucoma Treatment?

Susan Grindstaff
Susan Grindstaff
Special eye drops are commonly used as glaucoma treatment.
Special eye drops are commonly used as glaucoma treatment.

The most common type of glaucoma treatment is eye drops that have been specifically designed for glaucoma therapy. Other methods of treatment include surgery, marijuana, and some herbal remedies. Treatment of glaucoma typically involves reducing the amount of intraocular fluid around the optic nerve. This is usually accomplished by eliminating the production of the fluid. In some cases, where that is not possible, the treatment is aimed at improving eye drainage.

Glaucoma causes a person to lose vision gradually.
Glaucoma causes a person to lose vision gradually.

Glaucoma is the result of pressure inside the eye caused by the buildup of intraocular fluid. This fluid puts pressure directly on the optic nerve, which could severely limit vision. In some cases, if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. In order to improve vision and limit damage, the pressure caused by intraocular fluid must be relieved. Several kinds of eye drops are available that accomplish this in a number of ways, but some have serious side effects.

Marijuana lowers eye pressure, but it is commonly considered only beneficial as a short-term aid for people with glaucoma.
Marijuana lowers eye pressure, but it is commonly considered only beneficial as a short-term aid for people with glaucoma.

Beta blockers are sometimes used in eye drops as a glaucoma treatment. The risk associated with beta blockers can be significant, especially for patients who have a history of heart or lung problems. Other forms of eye drops used to treat glaucoma generally improve eye drainage, another way to lower the pressure inside the eye. Studies seem to show that for some patients, these types of eye drops are a safe and effective alternative to beta blockers.

Laser eye surgery can sometimes be used to treat glaucoma.
Laser eye surgery can sometimes be used to treat glaucoma.

For some people, eye drops are not an option. In very severe cases, surgery may be the best way to ease pressure in the eye. In these instances, laser surgery is the most common type of surgical glaucoma treatment. Laser surgery generally has a higher success rate and speedier recovery time than non-laser surgery.

There are a few natural herbal remedies available for glaucoma treatment; however, with the exception of gingko biloba, most of them have not been clinically tested. Research seems to indicate that gingko biloba, taken as a daily supplement, may improve overall vision. Some studies also show that it may help reduce deterioration in the optic nerve.

In the 1970s, research was released that seemed to show that medical marijuana might work as a natural glaucoma treatment. As with many of the eye drops, marijuana works by lowering pressure inside the eye. Most doctors seem to agree that though marijuana may have some benefit to glaucoma patients, the effects are too short term to be a truly viable option. Medical marijuana is sometimes prescribed for those whose physical condition prohibits other options.

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    • Special eye drops are commonly used as glaucoma treatment.
      Special eye drops are commonly used as glaucoma treatment.
    • Glaucoma causes a person to lose vision gradually.
      Glaucoma causes a person to lose vision gradually.
    • Marijuana lowers eye pressure, but it is commonly considered only beneficial as a short-term aid for people with glaucoma.
      Marijuana lowers eye pressure, but it is commonly considered only beneficial as a short-term aid for people with glaucoma.
    • Laser eye surgery can sometimes be used to treat glaucoma.
      Laser eye surgery can sometimes be used to treat glaucoma.