15th of February 2021

How do eye drops help glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the eye to the brain), in which eye pressure (the eye’s firmness) damages the optic nerve. This results in a slow but steady loss of vision over time. At first the vision loss is minimal, effecting primarily peripheral vision; in the more advanced stages it causes more debilitating central vision loss.

Glaucoma can be effectively treated by lowering the eye pressure, preserving the optic nerve from further damage. This is often achieved by eye drops which can lower the eye pressure. These drops work only when they are administered daily, on a regular basis. They can sometimes sting and irritate the eye, and effect the surface of the eye over the longer term, however are often necessary to prevent vision loss. 

Eye drops are not always well suited for people with glaucoma or raised eye pressure (ocular hypertension). For instance, some people have trouble remembering to use them regularly; especially those with busy lifestyles. Some people find the stinging, irritation and redness form the drops intolerable; some people just do not want to use long-term medication if it can be avoided. Fortunately there are different types of drops to try, some preservative-free preparations, and there are alternatives to eye drops altogether, such as gentle laser procedures (eg Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty) and occasionally minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.

If you wish to discuss your options, please make an appointment to see A/Prof Simon Skalicky.