If not treated within its early stages, glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. By employing therapeutic and surgical modalities to monitor and manage eye pressure early in the disease process, patients can achieve a much better outcome.
“Managing glaucoma is very similar to managing a patient’s blood pressure,” says Ralph Chu, M.D., founder and Medical Director of the Chu Vision Institute. “Instead of monitoring blood pressure to prevent stroke or heart attack, we are monitoring eye pressure to ensure the optic nerve is not damaged.”
Ensuring Prompt Treatment
Patients with glaucoma generally do not present with symptoms until the disease has progressed to later stages. Because of this, Dr. Chu recommends referral for glaucoma screening for patients who are older than 50 or who have a family history of the disease.
“Because glaucoma is a silent disease, patients should be referred for glaucoma screening as early as possible if they have any risk factors,” says Dr. Chu. “Open-angle glaucoma — the most common form of glaucoma — is typically a painless condition that requires vigilance and routine early screenings for proper detection.”
Available Treatment Modalities
At Chu Vision Institute, Dr. Chu offers the full spectrum of medical and surgical therapies to treat glaucoma. Depending on each patient’s individual condition, use of medical eye drops or surgical intervention using microcannula or lasers may be needed.
“Using eye drops to help manage pressure is preferred initially as a first-line therapy,” says Dr. Chu. “If there is a lack of response to eye drops or continued disease progression, we will investigate surgical intervention, which is where our specialty lies.”
Many innovative surgical procedures using the latest techniques and technologies are available through the Chu Vision Institute. These include laser trabeculoplasty, use of high-tech microcannula to help improve drainage of the aqueous humor and implants.
Many patients who receive treatment for glaucoma are older adults who also experience cataracts. Because of this, treatment for cataracts and glaucoma can now occur at the same time, preventing multiple eye surgeries.
“Within the last few years, advances in technology have allowed us to perform procedures at the time of cataract removal to reduce the need for medication in patients with glaucoma,” says Dr. Chu. “This is a very exciting development, and we have remained at the forefront of technology to master these techniques.”
As surgical interventions for glaucoma have continued to evolve, they have become less invasive and more effective. This allows many patients to have a safe surgical option that allows for cessation of eye drops or other required medications.
“Physicians should know that there are now safe alternatives to medical treatment,” says Dr. Chu. “If patients are being treated medically, they may benefit from evaluation for a surgical procedure, as techniques and technologies now involve quicker recovery times, less complications and better outcomes than previous techniques.” TWIN CITIES M.D. NEWS