Glaucoma is a term used to describe a number of different but related eye conditions, and since it affects everybody differently, there is no single glaucoma treatment. However, the purpose of glaucoma treatments is ultimately the same in every case - to prevent the deterioration of the optic disc and preserve normal vision. This is achieved by lowering the intraocular pressure (pressure of the fluid in the eye against the eyeball). The level of the intraocular pressure is determined by the balance between the production of the aqueous humour (the fluid in the eye) and the flow of the aqueous humour out of the eye.

Imagine a tap and drain in an overflowing bathtub. In order to stop the water spilling out of the tub you can either turn the faucet down to decrease the water entering the tub, or improve the drainage out of the tub by increasing the rate of flow down the drain. Pills, eye drops, laser treatment, or standard surgical techniques all help reduce elevated intraocular pressures by either improving the drainage of aqueous humour or slowing down the rate of production.

Generally, at the beginning of treatment, your eye doctor will place you on a single medication. Your response to therapy will be closely monitored and, if necessary, a combination of medications may be used to control your intraocular pressures and stabilize your vision. Your eye doctor will continue to check you frequently, until you achieve a stable situation and find medications that work best for you.

Because intraocular pressures are not always constant, your eye doctor will continue to check your intraocular pressure readings while you are on medication and occasionally, when you are off your medication. Sometimes, over time, medications can reduce their effectiveness and the intraocular pressures may creep back up to the levels they were at before medication, so your eye doctor will monitor this as well.

Frederick S. Mikelberg, MD 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team