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Treating glaucoma

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There's no cure for glaucoma, but there are treatments that can control it and prevent further damage. Unfortunately, any existing damage to the optic nerve is permanent. If you don't treat glaucoma, the damage will get worse and you can lose your sight.

Treatment for glaucoma aims to lower the pressure inside your eye to prevent any further damage to the optic nerve. It can do this in two ways:

You'll need to continue treating your glaucoma for the rest of your life.

The main treatment is with medicated eye drops and sometimes tablets. You might also have laser treatment, surgery, or a combination of these methods.


Glaucoma medications come in different strengths and combinations. Eye doctors (ophthalmologists) try to use the smallest amount of medication with the fewest side effects. You might need several medications that complement each other. You'll need to use medications every day to control the pressure in your eye.

Like all medicines, the eye drops can have side effects, although many people don't get them. Mild eye irritation or pain is common. But if your eyes are always sore, your vision is blurred, or you develop a red rash around your eyes, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.


Don't skip using your medications unless your doctor tells you to. You risk going blind if your glaucoma isn't being treated.

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Written by Canterbury optometrists.Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Ophthalmology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed November 2019.


Page reference: 137710

Review key: HIGLC-114674