Never Ignore Your Doctor's Advice About Your Blood Pressure

I have always been in pretty good health, so I was surprised one day when my doctor told me my blood pressure was a bit high. She told me to begin watching my salt intake, start exercising, and to try to relax. Well, I intended to follow her advice when I left her office, but the next day I was back to my same habits. I kept using the salt shaker and didn't begin an exercise routine like I had planned. When I went for my next check-up, she told me that my blood pressure was even higher and approaching a dangerous level. I had to begin a blood pressure medication to manage it. I wanted to create a blog to share my story and remind people to listen to their doctors' advice. If a few lifestyle changes can improve your health, then you should make them.

What Are The Best Treatment Options For Glaucoma?

Health & Medical Articles

If you've recently been diagnosed with glaucoma, you may be concerned about permanently losing or damaging your vision. If the high eye pressure caused by glaucoma is not promptly treated, this pressure can damage the sensitive cells that allow the transmission of images from your optic nerve to your brain. Read on to learn more about the treatment options available to you, as well as about some advances in treatment that could allow you to reduce or even cure your glaucoma.

What are your general treatment options? 

Because glaucoma tends to be a progressive disease, your ophthalmologist will likely first start you on one of the least-invasive options -- eye drops. These drops are intended to reduce the internal pressure in your eye, just like blood pressure medication. You'll likely apply these drops once or twice a day for a month or two and then return to your ophthalmologist for an evaluation. 

Over time, you may be able to wean yourself off the use of these drops and naturally control your eye pressure through changes in diet and exercise. Because high intraocular pressure is often associated with other comorbidities like diabetes and high blood pressure, increasing the amount of exercise you get and reducing your intake of saturated fat and sodium can help eliminate signs of glaucoma. 

If these drops are unsuccessful in reducing your eye pressure after several months, or if your eye pressure is so high at the time of diagnosis that sudden intervention is needed, your ophthalmologist will likely instead schedule you for one of two types of surgery.

  • Surgery to improve the eye's drainage system

One type of surgery that has become popular is the use of a laser to improve your eye's natural drainage system. In some cases, glaucoma may be caused by a blockage of the vents that allow fluid to enter and exit your eye. By using a laser to re-open this vent, your ophthalmologist can take your eyes back to their pre-glaucoma condition. Depending upon what led to the initial blockage, this surgery may need to be repeated one or more times during your lifetime. 

  • Surgery to implant a drain or stent

A common way to instantly reduce the pressure in the eye is to implant a drain (or stent) to remove fluid. These stents are usually designed to run from the internal surface of your eye to your sinuses, where excess intraocular fluid painlessly drains away. In some cases, these eye stents can eventually be removed to allow the eye to recalibrate its own drainage system; in others, the stent will need to remain for the rest of your life.

Which treatment options offer you the greatest chance of long-term success?

Although eye drops are the most minimally-invasive way to treat glaucoma, the long-term success rates aren't always rosy. Many patients have difficulty remembering to take drops at the same time each day -- particularly if they aren't yet experiencing noticeable side effects of the glaucoma. Other patients may be slow to respond to glaucoma medication.

However, recent advances have led to the use of "micro stents" in glaucoma surgery. Studies of this surgery indicate that it provides significantly greater success over the long term, with more than 85 percent of micro stent patients reducing their intraocular pressure to normal levels within 6 months of the procedure (compared to 70 percent of patients using only eye drops). 

Because this option is minimally invasive -- and can sometimes even be performed during your regular checkup -- many patients are now opting for it over the daily use of drops. Most micro stent patients will be able to successfully manage their glaucoma for years, or even decades, without resorting to daily medication or undergoing a potentially painful operation.


21 April 2015