Glaucoma is a general term for a family of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight,” open-angle glaucoma has no initial symptoms and is the most common type of glaucoma in the United States. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss and even blindness. Because glaucoma develops slowly and does not cause pain or changes in vision until the optic nerve has been damaged, it is important to have comprehensive eye exams regularly to prevent glaucoma.
Glaucoma is caused by elevated pressure on the inside of the eye, known as intraocular pressure or IOP. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops to help lower your IOP and keep pressure within a safe range. Although eye drops are still the most common treatment for glaucoma, they may have side effects. Also, there is a continual cost associated with eye drops.
The future of glaucoma treatment may be changing. Micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) is gaining popularity for glaucoma patients and ophthalmologists. MIGS is designed to be performed in conjunction with cataract surgery. In the procedure, the surgeon inserts a microstent, about the size of an eyelash, into the eye’s drainage system to open and enlarge it. Increasing flow of fluid gradually lowers intraocular pressure. This microstent performs much like a heart stent for individuals with coronary artery disease.
Some ophthalmologists see micro-invasive glaucoma surgery as a way to establish glaucoma as a surgical disease. However, MIGS is not for everyone. Those with uncontrolled intraocular pressure and significant visual field loss are not good candidates for MIGS. Also, MIGS is not recommended if the patient does not have cataracts or if he or she does not have open-angle glaucoma (Source: Healio).
If you have cataracts and open-angle glaucoma, talk to your doctor about MIGS. You may find that your financial responsibility and recovery time are reduced as two procedures are performed in one operation.
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