Alternative Glaucoma Treatments That Are Gaining Traction
Recent advances in technology are doing more than just wirelessly charging our smart devices and sending private investors to space. They’re also bringing us closer to better ocular health management, especially when it comes to glaucoma treatments.
Glaucoma ranks among the most common eye diseases across the globe, and despite decades of research and study, it remains uncurable. Typical regiments for managing glaucoma include the use of medicated eye drops or surgical procedures — both of which aim to slow down or halt the disease’s progression before any noticeable effects can crop up. Traditionally, glaucoma has been something people accept and live with for the rest of their lives rather than receive a direct treatment to restore their vision.
Although optic nerve damage can’t be truly undone, some emerging therapies show promise in providing alternate treatments to replace the tedium and cost of using medicated drops to control glaucoma. Here’s a few alternative glaucoma treatments that are worth watching!
Green Light Therapy
Of the different glaucoma treatment routes being studied, one of the most novel (and perhaps space-age) approaches involves the natural pressure-alleviating benefits of green light exposure. In a study performed in 1948 and published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Dr. R. B. Zaretskaya found that red light exposure increased intraocular pressure in patients’ eyes while green light exposure had the opposite effect. When specifically dealing with glaucomatous eyes, however, red light did not raise the eye pressure as much as non-glaucomatous eyes, and green light decreased the pressure more than usual. This test provided evidence that green light therapy — where patients potentially stare at a green LED light for a few minutes — could become a minimally invasive supplement to traditional glaucoma treatment. Another experiment observed glaucoma patients wearing green-tinted glasses throughout their day and uncovered similar results.
Unfortunately, few additional studies of green light therapy have been carried out since 1948. As it stands today, there is simply not enough known about the viability of green light therapy to make it a clinical tool for ophthalmologists to rely on. However, a more recent trial conducted in 2019 shows budding interest in the subject. Perhaps staring at green laser lights will become a useful technique for glaucoma patients in the future!
Imagine receiving specific treatment for glaucoma only two to three times a year in the form of eye injections. One and done — no drops, no fancy surgeries. That’s exactly what the research of Hydrogel injections promises, and it’s already making waves in the eye care industry!
The procedure involves a quick injection of polymer material into the suprachoroidal space (SCS) within the eye. Once inside, the solution bonds to form hydrogel, a combo which holds open a new pathway out of the eye like a clamp.
Normally the aqueous humor in the eye drains through the trabecular meshwork, but glaucoma tends to keep that exit blocked, leaving the suprachoroidal space as its secondary vent. With a new way out through the SCS, eye fluid can freely exit out of the eye and IOP can return to normal levels. The best part? That hydrogel material can keep a pathway open for months!
Although more testing needs to be done before hydrogel injections gain traction with your local eye care provider, there’s no doubt that many glaucoma patients would gladly benefit from receiving treatment every six months to eliminate the need for eyedrops entirely. Only time will tell how useful this regiment becomes. The future of controlled IOP is looking bright!
How about an emerging technology already being used in a handful of eye care clinics across the U.S.? Ever since gaining FDA approval in 2020, Durysta implants have been a popular and powerful addition to select ophthalmologists who stay on the cutting edge of glaucoma treatment technology. Backed by numerous studies and many reports of success when it comes to controlling IOP for the long haul, this technique could be coming your way soon!
Durysta implants are tiny, dissolvable capsules which get injected into glaucomatous eyes in a similar fashion as other eye injections. Once safely inside the eye, the implants will then periodically release bimatoprost — a clinical drug which improves the flow of aqueous humor in the eye — to prevent intraocular pressure from building. The implants continually keep tabs on the pressure in a glaucoma patient’s eye before naturally degrading when the medication runs out. Clinical studies have indicated Durysta effectively kept IOP low for 4-6 months on average, but some patients already receiving the treatment have gone two years without new injections!
The only downside to these implants comes at the cost of comfort in the eye in the days following the injection. As typical with most injections, conjunctival hyperemia (eye inflammation) is a common side-effect shortly after treatment. Nevertheless, Durysta is already spreading to eye clinics across the country as an alternative glaucoma treatment.
While you wait for these hopeful alternatives to glaucoma control, don’t forget that the most common regiment for lowering intraocular pressure — glaucoma eyedrop medications — can still be expensive and put out wasteful drop sizes. The Nanodropper adaptor reduces eyedrop cost and medication waste by lowering the drop size to only what the eye can absorb. Ask your eyecare professional if Nanodropper is right for you!