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Latest Questions and Answers
Why would one have to have their eye removed due to glaucoma? [ 06/04/13 ]

Thanks for your question. If the eye is completely blind from glaucoma, and painful, then it would be reasonable to consider removing the eye. However, even for blind and painful eyes, doctors can offer an injection of an agent that can reduce or eliminate the pain. This is preferable as it allows the patient to maintain the eye, even though it is blind. I would discuss this option with your ophthalmologist if this is an issue you are facing.

I have been taking antihistamines for seasonal allergies since I was four years old. I am now 57 and had Yag laser iridotomy this year. I was using Claritin and Zyrtec, and currently continue to use Flonase and Nasalcrom nose sprays without difficulty. I also took Benadryl for topical allergy due to a response to an adhesive. I had a lot of pain and dryness after using it for two or three days. Allergy season is approaching and I wanted to know if there is any medication I can still take. [ 06/04/13 ]

Thank you for your question. If I understand your question correctly, the Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl have given you a lot of dry eye symptoms. Furthermore, it sounds like you have narrow angles, and this is why you had the laser iridotomy. If your eye pressure is stable, even with the use of intranasal steroids, then you can continue those medications. In terms of antihistamines, I am not aware of any antihistamine that cannot potentially have dry eye as a side effect, unfortunately. It may be worthwhile, however, to try various antihistamines to see if any of them control your allergy symptoms but also minimize dry eye symptoms. The last issue is whether or not you have itchy eyes related to your seasonal allergies. In that case, there are certainly a wide variety of different types of eye drops your ophthalmologist can prescribe to alleviate those symptoms. Good luck!

I was misdiagnosed for glaucoma, despite frequent visits. I have since been using several eye drops and had surgeries performed on both eyes. The vision in my left eye is now completely gone and I can no longer enjoy even my peripheral vision, which disappeared one week ago. What should I expect to happen to my vision next? Can I benefit from stem cell therapy? What are the available resources and contacts? I am desperate to have some vision to perform my duties as a pharmacist. Thank you. [ 06/04/13 ]

Thanks for your question. I am so sorry to hear about your vision loss. Unfortunately despite optimizing eye pressure, some patients still suffer from worsening glaucoma, which sounds like is the case for you. It would be worth discussing with your ophthalmologist and primary care doctor about other risk factors for worsening glaucoma, such as low blood pressure, and optimizing these risk factors, if present. In terms of stem cells, currently there is ongoing research in this area, but no product or stem cell transplantation available. However, there are clinical trials for glaucoma treatments that protect the optic nerve.

You could check clinicaltrials.gov to see if there are any trials enrolling glaucoma patients for neuroprotective treatments. I hope this helps, and good luck!

I have been diagnosed with glaucoma. My ocular pressure, before starting treatment, was generally 18 in right eye and 19 in left eye. My doctor said I had thin corneas (I had Lasik two years ago), which means my eye pressure readings are artificially low. After taking eye drops (Lumigan first and then Zioptan) my most recent pressure was 16 in the right eye and 13 in left eye. The visual field test showed progression of peripheral vision loss in left eye, however. My doctor wants to perform a selective laser trabeculoplasty in left eye (SLT). I want to be sure that there is no other problem that is contributing to the vision loss. Should the doctor suspect other causes of vision loss, such as those caused by cardiac or pulmonary issues? Should I have other tests done to see if there is poor circulation to optic nerve? [ 06/04/13 ]

Thanks for your question. Your story sounds most consistent with glaucoma progression. However, one approach you could consider is to repeat the visual field and ensure that there truly is progression. Perhaps this has already been done? I like to repeat the test to document whether there has truly been progression. Another option is to consider additional medications before SLT. But your real question is whether there are other cardiac or pulmonary issues that could be at play. One risk factor that has become more accepted is blood pressure, especially diastolic blood pressure. Your blood pressure is related to your ocular perfusion pressure, which could be a risk factor for glaucoma progression. You did not mention whether you have blood pressure issues, but if you are on medications for this condition, it may be worth ensuring that your blood pressure is not too low as this can result in decreased blood flow to the optic nerve. I hope this helps, and good luck!

I am 63 years old and my eyes have become a lot worse during the last three years. My eye doctor thinks it may be due to diabetes or my thyroid, because my vision has changed five times in my right eye and four times in my left eye. Are these changes normal? [ 06/04/13 ]

Thanks for your question. Without examining your eyes, it’s difficult to know for sure, but it is possible that you could have fluctuating vision as you described, especially if your diabetes is not well-controlled. You did not mention whether the decrease is mostly for distance or near vision, and certainly as we get older our near vision can become more and more blurry. I would recommend that you have a comprehensive examination that includes dilation to rule out any other problems. However, it is possible that you will need your glasses updated yearly. Good luck!

In 2008, there was a study by Dr. Parisi that spoke of the very positive effects of citicoline in treating glaucoma. I recently saw that a patent for topical citicoline was just approved. How safe is it to take citicoline as a capsule supplement, in addition to Travatan Z to help treat glaucoma? If it is safe, what would be the recommended dosage? Thank you. [ 06/04/13 ]

Thanks for your question. I recently heard Dr. Parisi discuss the results of oral citicoline treatment of patients in Italy. I personally have no experience with citicoline use, as it is not FDA approved for glaucoma treatment in the U.S. It has been used for stroke and Alzheimer’s in Europe and Asia, but in the U.S. it is a dietary supplement. It is important to note that they observed regression of improvements in visual function when the drug was discontinued. This is important because we do not know the long-term effects of continued citicoline usage. Furthermore, there are side effects including blood pressure instability, chest pain, and headache. At this point, I would recommend that you speak about this with your ophthalmologist and primary care doctor in terms of the safety of taking this supplement in your particular situation. Good luck!

I am 77 years old and have suffered from open-angle glaucoma for 27 years. Both eyes had been treated with Betagan, which caused bronchial spasm; Alphagan, which caused orthostatic hypotension; and Azopt, which caused skin eruption. My left eye is worse; it had a trabeculectomy 12 years ago, and the procedure led to the loss of central vision. Now I am only using Travatan Z in my right eye. My new eye doctor said that I need a trabeculectomy performed on my right eye now. Due to central vision loss in my left eye after previous surgery, I am very nervous about getting this surgery done on my right eye, in which I have 20/30 vision. What are the odds that I will lose the central vision in my right eye after surgery this time? I also would like to know what the chances are that I will go blind in five years. Thank you. [ 06/04/13 ]

Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, the phenomenon that you describe, in which one can lose central vision after a successful trabeculectomy, is a very rare occurrence but does happen. I can certainly understand why you are nervous about having trabeculectomy performed on your right eye. It is difficult without examining your eyes to know what the risk of losing central vision in your right eye is, as some of it depends on how advanced the glaucoma and visual field loss is. Furthermore, it is hard for me to assess your risk of blindness without knowing your rate of visual field loss over the last 27 years. What we do know is that if you don’t have any interventions and your glaucoma is not well-controlled, you will eventually lose more visual field, but it is important to assess over what time period. These are questions you should certainly ask your ophthalmologist. If you don’t feel comfortable asking him or her, perhaps seeking a second opinion and asking these very questions will help you in your decision. Good luck!

My nephew, who lives in New York City, is 37 years old and he is blind in his right eye because of glaucoma. He is in good health otherwise. I am searching for a hospital and doctors who can perform a stem cell transplant for glaucoma or a transplant of retinal ganglion cells. I am looking for doctors in the USA, who can perform these procedures. Thanks for your input. [ 04/17/13 ]

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, at this point in time, there are no doctors in the United States who perform stem cell transplants for glaucoma or transplants of retinal ganglion cells. There is much research in this area (including my own research) but we are still many years from being able to safely offer such a treatment. In fact, I would say that if you do find a doctor who claims he/she can perform such a transplant, be very careful. You may have heard of stem cell transplants for other eye diseases, such as macular degeneration. However, in glaucoma, the dying retinal ganglion cell extends all the way from the eye to the brain and a “cure” for blindness from glaucoma is not as simple as just transplanting replacement retinal ganglion cells. I encourage you to continue doing research into new treatments for glaucoma but always with a careful approach.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional; it is not intended to constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. All medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. Also, although we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the posted information reflects the most up-to-date research.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

Last Review: 04/28/13

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