Drops Vs. Lasers: Choosing The Right Glaucoma Treatment Options

Patients often ask about Glaucoma treatment options following a diagnosis.  Whether it’s drops, lasers or surgery, the eye care professionals at Wills Eye Physicians Bailey Weber Wisner will work with you on a treatment plan to slow the progression of the disease.

What are common Glaucoma treatments?

In the early stages of the disease, patients may choose from various eye drop treatments or a laser procedure done in their doctor’s office. Typically, an eye care professional will talk patients through their Glaucoma treatment options to understand the risks and benefits of the different treatment types.

Is treatment based on the progression of the disease, or is it evaluated on a case-by-case basis?

It depends. If a patient has severely elevated eye pressure, their doctor might recommend eye drops because they start to work immediately. The laser procedure only begins to alleviate Glaucoma-related eye pressure after four-to-six weeks.

It also depends on other diseases or conditions the patient may have besides Glaucoma. Some eye drops might work better for some patients and not others. Another factor can be a matter of habit. Some patients know themselves well enough to know that they won’t remember to use their eye drops every day, so they’ll opt for the laser procedure.

Glaucoma patients should be honest with their eye care professional about what the patient thinks will work best for them. These treatment options work 80 percent of the time, so the patient can always try the other if one doesn’t seem to work.

Do Glaucoma treatments exist besides eye drops and lasers?

Surgery becomes an option for patients who do not respond to either eye drop or laser treatment, and the disease continues to progress. A Glaucoma specialist will perform the surgery to drain fluid from the eye.

Is surgery ever the first treatment option for Glaucoma?

The most common type of Glaucoma, primary open-angle Glaucoma, will not usually require surgery as the first treatment option. However, if the Glaucoma developed due to severe eye trauma or a vascular blockage, an ophthalmologist might recommend surgery first.

Can Glaucoma be cured?

Eye care professionals can control the most common form of Glaucoma, primary open-angle Glaucoma, but they cannot cure it. Laser procedures can cure other forms like narrow-angle Glaucoma, but that represents a small subset of patients.

The best course of action remains to take a proactive approach, receive regular eye exams, and identify the disease as early as possible.

Woman in yellow sweater uses eye drops to treat her glaucoma