«« Vision Nurse »»


Is Glaucoma Laser Surgery A Safe And Effective First Treatment For Glaucoma?



What is the Procedure for Glaucoma Laser Surgery?  


Laser therapy is a safe and effective alternative to eyedrops as a first-line treatment for patients with newly diagnosed primary open-angle glaucoma, according to research results released in 2001. It will prevent a lifetime of exposure to eyedrops that have many side effects and may do damage to the body.


It's not common knowledge but even the eye drops used by your ophthalmologist to dilate your eyes can CAUSE glaucoma. 


The finding comes from a follow-up study of patients in the nationwide Glaucoma Laser Trial (GLT), sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The study was done to learn if early laser treatment is safe and whether it offers any medical advantages over eye drops for newly diagnosed open-angle glaucoma.


After some 7 years of follow up, all measures used to evaluate the two treatments showed that the "laser first" eyes and the "medication first" eyes had a similar status on all measures used to evaluate the two treatments. Researchers assessed changes in the patient's visual field, visual acuity (sharpness), intraocular pressure, and optic nerve.


"Our results suggest that initial treatment with laser is at least as effective as initial treatment with eye drops," said Hugh Beckman, M.D. of  Mt. Sinai Hospital in Detroit, the study's chairman.


However, researchers cautioned that neither treatment method is a "magic bullet" for long-term control of glaucoma. They noted that two years after the start of treatment, 56 percent of "laser first" eyes and 70 percent of "medication first" eyes needed new or extra medications to control pressure inside the eye.


Carl Kupfer, M.D., director of the National Eye Institute, stated that whichever first treatment is chosen for newly diagnosed glaucoma, "the disease is a long-term, chronic illness that must be controlled over the patient's lifetime in order to save vision."


About 3 million Americans have open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma in the U.S. For unknown reasons, small changes within the eye gradually interfere with the normal flow of fluids that feed tissues in the front of the eye. If these fluids do not drain properly, the resulting higher pressure inside the eye can damage the optic nerve and narrow the field of vision. This change happens so slowly that many people are not diagnosed with glaucoma until they have significant loss of vision.


A total of 271 patients were enrolled in the initial GLT. Each patient had laser treatment in one eye and medication in the other eye. The final results on 203 patients who were followed for an average of 7 years after treatment were reported in today's American Journal of Ophthalmology.


Researchers noted that both treatments caused side effects. However, the side effects of laser treatment were temporary or made no apparent difference in the long run, while the side effects of eyedrops were troublesome for some patients for as long as the drops were used. Eye drops used for glaucoma treatment can cause discomfort in the eye, blurry vision, headaches, and fast or slow heartbeat.


Side Effects of the Glaucoma Eye Drops on Your Body


And side effects from these eye drops can cause lifelong problems.   You cannot evaluate the damage the eye drops are doing.   Even though you are just putting the glaucoma eye drops in your eyes, they affect the whole body. They are absorbed into your system.


In 34 percent of "laser first" eyes the laser treatment caused a temporary jump in intraocular pressure for the first few days after treatment. Also, some 30 percent of the "laser first" eyes developed peripheral anterior synechiae--adhesions that form when the iris sticks to part of the cornea. However, on all clinical measures the eyes with adhesions were the same as eyes with no adhesions.


So do a lot of research befoe you have glaucoma laser surgery. Find out exactly how the glaucoma laser eye procedure is done and if that is the solution or cure to your problem. 


sometimes misspelled: glacoma, glawcoma, glucoma