Glaucoma is a medical condition affecting roughly three million Americans every year. It’s caused by too much fluid pressure buildup within the eye due to a Trabecular Meshwork blockage. If left untreated, this condition can result in serious side effects, including blindness. At Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS, Dr. Patel is committed to the eye health of her clients. Today, we’re taking a closer look at glaucoma treatment to help you determine if it’s right for you.
How Long Does Glaucoma Treatment Take?
How long glaucoma treatment takes depends on numerous factors, including whether you are treating one or both eyes and the treatment method being used. In some cases, treatment can take an hour or two. However, if Dr. Patel determines that the best treatment method for you is iStent glaucoma surgery with cataract surgery, removing your cataracts and implanting your iStent may take roughly a quarter of an hour to a third of an hour per eye.
How Long Does Recovery From This Procedure Take?
Your glaucoma treatment recovery time, like the treatment time, depends on the treatment you receive. If you are a good fit for an iStent implant, you should know that your recovery should be easy. Dr. Patel generally advises her clients to take a few days off from work to focus on their recovery. There’s no need to worry about saving up a week or two of PTO to dedicate to your recovery.
What Can I Expect During the Recovery Process?
Everyone’s recovery process is unique, but we can give you a general idea of what you can expect. The first thing you should anticipate regarding your recovery is that you will be able to return home on the same day of your surgery. It is an outpatient procedure, meaning there is no need to spend the night in a hospital. The second thing you should anticipate is that you will need to wear an eye shield after your procedure.
However, you can remove your eye shield the morning after your operation. Also, you should know that even if you choose to go back to work after only taking three days off, you will need to apply anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eyedrops to your treated eye for roughly 28 to 42 days. You should also know that you will need to avoid any strenuous physical activity, like heavy lifting, HIIT, and contact sports to keep your eye pressure stable during your recovery.
Do I Have Glaucoma?
While glaucoma can lead to blindness, there are a number of other symptoms that usually develop first. For instance, many people with glaucoma go to an eye doctor and get a diagnosis because they notice recurring headaches, pressure or pain in one or both eyes, or chronic red eyes. Other symptoms of glaucoma that may precede total vision loss include:
- Blind spots
- Narrowed vision
- Low vision
- Blurred vision
- Rainbow-like halos around lights
- Hazy-looking eyes
An Important Note
It is worth noting that it is usually only with angle-closure glaucoma that symptoms are noticeable in the early stages of the disease. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, it is rare for symptoms to be present unless the disease is late in its development. In the case of secondary glaucoma, you should not be surprised to experience symptoms of cataracts, diabetes, or other medical condition that can lead to excessive eye pressure.
It is also worth noting that glaucoma sometimes occurs even in the absence of excessive eye pressure. For instance, blind spots can occur when your eye pressure falls within a normal range. This is known as normal-tension glaucoma. Furthermore, you should know that optic nerve damage can occur without eye pressure being excessive. Finally, you should know that pigmentary glaucoma can occur when iris pigmentation clogs your drainage canals.
What Are the Risk Factors of Developing This Condition?
While individuals of any age can develop glaucoma, the most significant risk factor is being over the age of 40. Race is also a significant risk factor. If your ancestors were Irish, African, Hispanic, Inuit, Scandinavian, Japanese, or Russian, you also have an increased risk of developing glaucoma. Age and race are not the only glaucoma risk factors. They’re just the most significant. Other risk factors include:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Family history of the condition
- Poor vision
- Prednisone or other steroid drug usage
- Bladder control drug usage
- Seizure drug usage
- OTC cold remedy usage
- Eye injuries
- Thin corneas
- High eye pressure
- Hypertension or heart disease
- Sickle cell anemia
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
The glaucoma diagnosis process is quick and painless. First, you will be given drops to dilate your pupils so your eyes can be examined properly. Then, your optic nerve will be evaluated closely for indications of glaucoma. If it looks like you may have glaucoma, Dr. Patel will run a tonometry test to determine how much pressure is being exerted on your eye.
Sometimes, a field of vision test is also required to determine whether you are losing peripheral vision over time. Finally, in some cases, a special imaging test of the optic nerve is required to identify glaucoma. Just keep in mind that you will not experience any pain or discomfort during the glaucoma diagnostic process.
How Can I Keep My Eyes Healthy?
There are a number of things you can do to maintain your improved eye health over the long term if you get your glaucoma treated. One of the most effective things you can do is to exercise regularly. Regular cardiovascular exercise (2.5 hours per week at a moderate intensity if you are happy with your weight) will help you keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. This will also help you keep your eye pressure within a healthy range.
Other things you can do to keep your eye pressure healthy include limiting your caffeine consumption, drinking enough water, and eating healthily most of the time. As a general rule of thumb, you should keep your caffeine consumption to 400 mg per day. However, this limit may be lower if you have naturally high blood pressure.
Am I a Good Candidate for Glaucoma Treatment?
To find out whether you are a good candidate for iStent implantation, you need to attend an initial evaluation with Dr. Patel. During this consultation, she will evaluate your eyes to determine whether you suffer from glaucoma and discuss your overall health to confirm that an iStent implantation is the most effective treatment method for you.
Most people who suffer from glaucoma are considered a good fit for iStent implantation. However, it is not right for everyone. For instance, you may be considered a poor fit for this procedure if your doctor has you taking a blood thinner daily, like Coumadin or aspirin. If iStent implantation is a poor fit for you, Dr. Patel will advise you on safer treatment methods based on your medical history and the pharmaceuticals your doctor has advised you to take.
What if I’m Not a Good iStent Implantation Candidate?
Remember, if you are a poor iStent implantation candidate, there are other glaucoma treatment methods available. For instance, you may be deemed a better fit for eye drops that reduce the ability of the eye to produce fluid or increase its ability to excrete fluid.
Regardless of the type of eye drop that may be right for you, your eye pressure will reduce, treating your glaucoma. Whether you qualify for eye drops depends on your health and the pharmaceuticals you currently take. Alternatively, you may be deemed a good fit for an oral medication, like a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor or beta-blocker.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
Glaucoma is a common but serious medical condition that should not be ignored. If it goes untreated for too long, serious side effects can develop, including blindness. Fortunately, there are quick, painless treatment methods available. If you’re a good fit for iStent glaucoma surgery with cataract surgery, your procedure may take only 15 to 20 minutes per eye. Even better, post-op recovery isn’t hard, and you should only need to take a few days off from work.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma or suspect you suffer from glaucoma, don’t delay. Contact us today at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS to schedule your initial glaucoma treatment consultation with Dr. Patel. She’ll evaluate your eyes, diagnose any eye conditions you have, and develop a safe, effective treatment plan that will address all of your concerns.