Glaucoma is considered a “treatable” but not “curable” disease. There are two main classes of glaucoma, 1) The open angle glaucomas, and 2) The narrow or closed angle glaucomas.
There are many subsets of glaucoma within these two classes and we will over time explore these subsets. Treatment for the open angle glaucomas also known as Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) usually starts with medications in the form of eyedrops. We call these medications ‘topical” because they are applied directly to the eye and not by the oral route which most medications are administered.
Treatment for the Narrow Angle Glaucomas (NAG) involves the initial treatment with a laser surgery performed as an out-patient procedure. This procedure is called a Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI). For many patients, the laser treatment is then followed by long-term treatment with the same topical medications used to treat the open angle glaucomas. Thus, one striking difference between narrow angle glaucoma and open angle glaucoma is that the narrow angle patients require laser treatment as a first step in their treatment strategy. For patients with open angle glaucomas, there are laser treatments which can be used as part of their treatment protocol. However, in most cases of POAG, the use of laser’s usually comes after at least one medication is introduced.
In most cases of POAG as well as NAG the treatment strategies include both medications (eyedrops) and laser treatment(s) over the course of their lifetime.
The subsequent installments of the glaucoma blog will provide further insight into the types of glaucoma and the types of treatment which exist.