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Laser Treatment for Glaucoma

written by: Jennifer Gonzalez • edited by: lrohner • updated: 1/18/2011

Glaucoma is a condition of the eyes that primarily affects a person's ability to see. Glaucoma laser treatment provides relief for some patients with this condition.

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    What is Glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is a condition that affects a person’s vision. The two most common types of this condition that are usually treated with glaucoma laser treatment are closed-angle glaucoma and open angle glaucoma.

    Vision loss due to glaucoma occurs because of damage to the optic nerve. The job of the optic nerve is to transmit images from the eye to the brain, and when this nerve becomes damaged, it cannot perform its job properly and will need correction. Damage to the nerve is believed to happen due to the increase of pressure in the eye.

    Medication and surgery can help to slow the damage to the eyes from glaucoma. At this time there is no cure for this condition, so it's important for a person to have regular eye check-ups since early detection is key to stopping the growth of this disease.

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all people receive a comprehensive eye exam at the age of 40, and to repeat every 3 to 4 years if you have no glaucoma risk factors. After the age of 60, those exams should take place yearly.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Glaucoma?

    Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible if you are at risk, or start to have vision problems. A doctor is the only one that can diagnose this condition and tell you what type of glaucoma you may have. If you have a concern about your eyes and think you might have this condition, there are some symptoms to watch out for.

    Symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma:

    • Decrease of peripheral vision. Most of the time this will affect both eyes.
    • Tunnel vision

    Symptoms of open angle glaucoma:

    • Red eyes
    • The appearance of halos or circles around lights
    • Sudden disturbance of vision, most often in poorly lit area
    • Blurred vision
    • Severe eye pain
    • Nausea and vomiting due to severe eye pain
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    Laser Surgery for Glaucoma

    In most cases your doctor will recommend surgery after they have tried to control your glaucoma with medication given to help lower the pressure in the eyes. If the medication does not relieve the symptoms, laser surgery might be the next step. Although laser surgery is usually a secondary option, some doctors will choose it as the first form of treatment.

    During glaucoma laser treatment, you will be given eye drops that will numb your eye, and a special contact lens will be placed in your eye. This contact will help your doctor to properly aim the laser in the correct part of your eye. Laser surgery works by using a tiny beam that shines into your eye and creates tiny holes, or shrink clogged areas to allow proper drainage of fluid stored in your eye due to the glaucoma. This build-up of fluid causes the pressure to build-up in your eye which in turn causes the damage to the optic nerve. Laser surgery may be performed once and then again at a later time depending on your results.

    Good eye care is the best form of prevention. Go for your regular eye exams, and follow all of your doctor's advice and guidelines to ensure you are caring for your eyes the best you can.