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Latest Questions and Answers
Can herbs or ayurvedic medicine cure acute angle-closure glaucoma? [ 02/25/13 ]

Thank you for your question. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency requiring surgical intervention and must be treated immediately to prevent optic nerve damage and vision loss. Herbs or ayurvedic medicine will not help in terms of changing the anatomy of the eye; only surgical intervention can stop the attack in a definitive fashion.


Can people who have glaucoma study just like those who do not have this eye disease? Also, how is glaucoma treated? [ 02/25/13 ]

Thank you for your question. Yes, people with glaucoma can study just like those who do not have eye disease. Glaucoma first affects your peripheral vision and spares central vision, so most people with glaucoma can read well. Sometimes glaucoma patients have decreased contrast sensitivity or color vision, which can affect reading Please visit the treatment section of this website for more information about medication, laser procedures, and surgical techniques for glaucoma.


Is there a relationship between glaucoma and macular degeneration? I have glaucoma and now my ophthalmologist has spotted reduced pigmentation in the left retina and has scheduled me with the macular degeneration specialist. In case it matters, I was diagnosed with glaucoma when I was 19. I am now 56, have poor vision, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and now possibly macular degeneration. Concerning the macular degeneration issue, I thought that smokers should not take beta-carotene supplements. Is that true? Thank you for your help. [ 02/25/13 ]

Thank you for your question. Glaucoma and macular degeneration are not related in the sense that having glaucoma does not increase your risk of macular degeneration or vice versa. However, both are age-related diseases, although you were diagnosed with glaucoma at a young age. The good news is that some forms of macular degeneration, such as the dry form, may be very stable for many years and not cause problems, and eye doctors have newer treatments to treat the wet form should that occur.

The results of a large clinical trial did show that beta-carotene can increase the risk of lung cancer in current smokers, so smokers should avoid this supplement.


If eye drops are prescribed, can I still wear my contact lenses? I have recently been told to get a glaucoma work-up because my eye pressures are almost double of what they have been for the last 40 years, and apparently the optic nerves are showing thinning on the nasal side. I have also had post-nasal drip that is not helped by medications prescribed by my internist. Can the post-nasal drip be related to the drainage in the back of my eye? I am 49 and have returned to a professional medical program with 2.5 years to go and I really need good vision for my new career. It is very worrisome. I also use Latisse and I was hoping that it has been providing some benefit. [ 02/25/13 ]

Thank you for your question, and congratulations on your new career. Yes, you can still wear contact lenses while using eye drops, although the drops can affect the ocular surface and your tolerance of contact lenses. The post-nasal drip is unlikely to be related to your glaucoma, although it would be helpful to know the list of medications that you have been prescribed for this condition. For example, intranasal steroids or inhaled steroids can have an impact on eye pressure. The Latisse has the same medication component as an eye drop for lowering eye pressure, but because its application is on the eyelashes, it will not help in lowering your eye pressure.


How long does a basic glaucoma test take to perform? [ 02/25/13 ]

I am not sure what you are referring to in terms of a “basic glaucoma test,” but I would recommend that if you are at risk for glaucoma or want to be examined for it, that you have a comprehensive examination performed by a board certified eye doctor. You will have your history taken, and a complete examination including: vision, eye pressure, corneal thickness, drainage angle examination (gonioscopy), slit lamp examination, optic nerve examination, visual field testing, and optic nerve imaging, if needed. A full examination can take an hour or two to complete.


I am presently taking Cosopt and Xalatan. I was taking Alphagan-P, but had to stop due to an allergic reaction to it. My doctor has prescribed a pill for me to try, and I also am scheduled to have laser surgery on my right eye in December. My eyes pressure was 27 and 28 during a recent eye exam. [ 02/25/13 ]

Thanks for your question. I hope that the laser procedure is successful in lowering your eye pressure. I am surmising that the pill your doctor prescribed is either acetazolamide or methazolamide. I do have patients who have been able to tolerate the pill for lowering eye pressure, but usually as a temporizing measure until more definitive treatment can be performed, such as laser procedures or surgery. I also take care of a small minority of patients who absolutely do not want surgery and would rather try to take the pill long-term. However, there are side effects of these pills that can affect not only health but quality of life, so most of the time patients then proceed to more definitive treatment. Please visit the treatment section of this website for more information about medication, laser and surgical procedures for glaucoma.


Is high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), used to destroy the ciliary process, effective for glaucoma? I have read some encouraging studies from Europe. [ 02/25/13 ]

Thank you for your question. HIFU is a new technology designed to destroy the ciliary processes, and as such, falls in the same category of two currently utilized technologies in the United States: Trans-scleral diode cyclophotocoagulation (TDC or TCP), and endocyclophotocoagulation (ECP). Both of these technologies utilize diode laser energy to destroy the ciliary processes. ECP is advantageous in that the surgeon visualizes the ciliary processes as the target tissues are treated, whereas both TDC and HIFU are “blind” procedures. They both have the advantage of not requiring an incision to the eye, and thus no risk of infection. HIFU’s purported advantages over TDC are that a) there is decreased inflammation and b) increased accuracy when targeting the ciliary processes because of the ring-shaped design of the probe. HIFU was actually used in the 1980s with a different commercially available device but had severe complications and thus was abandoned in the 1990s. I reviewed the current published literature and to date there is one published study describing 12 patients who underwent HIFU for difficult to treat glaucoma. This preliminary study demonstrated that the eye pressure was significantly reduced at 3 months without major complications, but thus far we do not have long-term data about safety or efficacy. But certainly, this new device should be evaluated by prospective randomized clinical trials comparing it to conventional cyclodestructive procedures such as TDC and ECP.


Two years ago, my ocular pressure was 16. Recently, during my eye examination, the pressure registered 19. I am 51 years old and my mother has glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Should I be concerned about such a steep change in only two years? The optometrist was not concerned and I have no visual problems other than the usual correction for my eyeglass prescription. [ 02/25/13 ]

Thank you for your question. Eye pressure fluctuates depending on time of day, your stress level, the pressure measurement device, the technique of the person taking your pressure measurement, the calibration of the device for pressure measurement, etc. It is not unusual for eye pressure to fluctuate from visit to visit, or even within the same day. And eye pressures of 16 and 19 are still within the “normal” range based on population-based studies. If you are indeed a “glaucoma suspect,” however, based on your family history and other risk factors, such as the appearance of your optic nerve, you should also have formal visual field testing and optic nerve imaging.


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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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