Glaucoma is considered a “treatable” but not “curable” disease. There are two main classes of glaucoma,
- The open angle glaucoma, and
- 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 open-angle glaucomas also known as Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) usually starts with medications in the form of eye drops. We call these medications ‘topical” because they are applied directly to the eye and not by the oral route to 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 open-angle glaucomas.
Thus, one striking difference between narrow-angle glaucoma and open angle glaucoma is that narrow-angle patients require laser treatment as the first step in their treatment strategy.
For patients with open-angle glaucomas, there are laser treatments that can be used as part of their treatment protocol. However, in most cases of POAG, the use of lasers usually comes after at least one medication is introduced.
In most cases of POAG as well as NAG the treatment strategies include both medications (eye drops) and laser treatment(s) over the course of their lifetime.