Early therapy for early outset glaucoma appears to slow the advancement of the disease. Researchers report immediate treatment of the most common form of glaucoma appears to impact the progression of vision loss. This has very few significant signs. Doctors are able to detect it only in a detailed eye exam. In this study, doctors recruited 202 patients who had early stage glaucoma in one eye. Around half of the group was treated with medicine and laser to reduce the amount of internal pressure in the eye. The rest of the group was left untreated. Patients who later showed signs of developing the disease were offered treatment.
Six years into the study, doctors found the disease progressed more slowly in the treated patients than in the untreated patients. In the treated patients, eye pressure was lowered by about 25 percent. Many patients showed no disease progression during the study. However, researchers are concerned that as many as 20 percent of treated patients went on to develop glaucoma. The lead author of the study, Anders Heijl, M.D., Ph.D., suspects glaucoma progresses at different speeds in patients and those with an aggressive form of the disease were not helped much by treatment.
The most common form of glaucoma affects nearly 1.0 million people over age 45. While doctors find treating eye pressure may help slow the disease, they do not believe elevated eye pressure necessarily is the cause of the disease. Further research will be done to continue to understand the cause.