Glaucoma affects over three million people in the U.S. It is the leading cause of blindness. This complex eye disease damages the optic nerve which eventually leads to irreversible vision loss if left untreated. By 2050, the number of cases is expected to double.
Currently, lowering intraocular pressure is the only approved glaucoma treatment. This approach can be achieved with eye drops, laser therapy or surgery. The most common method is eye drops, and over time several types of eye drop medication are needed to halt the progression of the disease. Typically, glaucoma displays no symptoms in the early stages.
An optometrist can determine the best treatment approach for each patient, depending on their medical history and current medication.
There have been many medical advances in glaucoma treatment in recent years. Two new drugs (Vyzulta by Bausch & Lomb and Rhopressa by Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), were approved by the FDA in 2017, these were the first glaucoma drops to become available in the past 20 years.
Along with new advanced drug therapies, minimally-invasive surgical techniques continue to be developed. These procedures offer more options to lower intraocular pressure by improving a portion of the natural drainage in ocular pathways with minimal disruption to delicate tissue. MIGS or micro-invasive glaucoma surgery involves tiny incisions and equipment for a safer alternative to traditional eye surgery. MIGS can also reduce the patient’s need for topical glaucoma medication.
Experts have stated that the advancement and development of new surgical solutions along with medications and drug delivery systems, provides more tools for doctors to treat glaucoma effectively. Today, there are more options than ever before. The goal of all this advanced research and dedicated work from the Glaucoma Research Foundation is to eventually discover a cure for the silent, sight-robbing disease.