New Research: The Future Looks Bright for Hassle-Free Glaucoma Treatments
- Posted on: Jan 19 2017
At Key-Whitman Eye Centers, our glaucoma specialists are dedicated to preventing
permanent vision loss in glaucoma patients. Daily prescription eye drops
are one of many effective treatments our eye doctors prescribe to control
glaucoma. While many patients do well with drops, others find it difficult
to comply with a daily drop regimen.
According to Key-Whitman’s
Plano eye doctor Kimberly S. Warren, M.D., “While daily prescription eye drops are a safe and effective glaucoma
treatment option, some patients experience discomfort – burning
and stinging of the eyes. Other people simply forget to take their drops
or struggle with instilling the proper amount of solution in their eyes,
especially those patients with arthritis or dexterity issues.”
Staying on top of changes to insurance plans, coverage and deductibles
can also be troubling for some patients.
As Dr. Warren explains, “Insurance typically covers a portion of
the cost of prescription eye drops, but plans change every year. Depending
on the type of drop and insurance coverage, prescription costs may rise
from manageable – $10 to $15 per month – to unmanageable –
$40 to more than $100 per month.
“These expenses can be even more problematic for patients who don’t
have insurance and/or take multiple medications (i.e., high blood pressure,
diabetes and other health conditions.”
Slow-Release, Doctor-Instilled Medication May Be Available Soon
Dr. Warren and the ophthalmology community are excited about current research,
which focuses on the use of slow-release eye medication to treat glaucoma
and reduce reliance on daily drops.
“We’ve used slow-release medication to treat macular degeneration
for some time now. Patients love this option, because they can visit their
eye doctor for treatment every three to six months, and the treatment
keeps their macular degeneration stable. Researchers are applying this
same philosophy to treating glaucoma,” Dr. Warren says.
Dr. Warren shares insight on current glaucoma treatment studies that involve
slow-release medication instilled in the eyes every three to six months.
Slow-Release Medication Could Increase Compliance, Reduce Patient Costs
If the slow-release medication for glaucoma proves effective and receives
FDA approval, Dr. Warren believes patients could experience multiple benefits.
According to Dr. Warren, “Cost and discomfort can deter some patients
from taking their glaucoma drops as prescribed. As with the macular degeneration
medication, an affordable, single dose of glaucoma medication, instilled
in the eyes once every three to six months, could offer many benefits.”
Once these new treatments are approved, Dr. Warren looks forward to simplifying
her patient’s lives, as people won’t have to worry about:
- Remembering to instill eye drops every day.
- Experiencing burning and stinging in the eyes.
- Changes to insurance plans, coverage and deductibles.
- Running out of medication because the drops weren’t instilled properly.
- Pharmacies not carrying the drops the patient has been prescribed or prefers.
“The other benefit of this form of treatment is that an eye doctor
instills the medication – not the patient. This helps ensure patients
receive the proper amount of medication,” Dr. Warren says.
Curious if Key-Whitman doctors recommend marijuana to treat glaucoma? Learn why
pot and glaucoma don’t mix, here.
Glaucoma Is A Silent Disease, So Prevention Is Key
According to Dr. Warren, “In America, there is no reason for people
to lose their vision due to glaucoma today – as long as we diagnose
and treat the disease early. Prevention is key for chronic diseases like
glaucoma, but you need to be screened regularly, because symptoms don’t
appear until the disease has progressed and permanent vision loss has
One of the biggest risk factors for glaucoma is a family history of the
disease. As Dr. Warren explains, “If you have family members with
glaucoma, or you’ve seen anyone in your family use eye drops to
treat glaucoma, it’s even more important to be screened early and
Other comorbidities for glaucoma include age (55 and above) as well as
diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. People of African American
descent and myopic patients are at higher risk.
“If you are over the age of 55 or in another high-risk group, see
an eye doctor for a
general eye health exam and glaucoma screening right away. The doctor can screen you for glaucoma as well as other eye
diseases and conditions, including cataracts, diabetic eye disease, macular
degeneration and more,” says Dr. Warren.
Learn more about glaucoma risk factors here.
Many Glaucoma Treatment Advances Deliver Excellent Results
Along with a variety of prescription eye drops, glaucoma specialists like
Dr. Warren have plenty of treatment options available in their glaucoma
care toolkits. These options help relieve pressure that builds up in the
eye, which can damage the optic nerve.
Dr. Warren reviews the range of treatment options available to her glaucoma patients.
“At Key-Whitman, we also offer laser eye treatments that can help
halt the progression of glaucoma and reduce reliance on drops. In addition,
glaucoma patients who also have cataracts may be good candidates for minimally
invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS),” explains Dr. Warren.
MIGS involves the insertion of a tiny stent (smaller than the tip of pen)
into the eye to alleviate pressure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
currently limits the use of these stents to patients undergoing cataract
surgery. Stents, such as the iStent® and the recently approved Alcon Cypass,® have not been approved by the FDA for use in standalone procedures.
Want to learn more about stents like iStent and Cypass? Check out this
How the Word’s Tiniest Medical Implant Brings New Hope and Relief to
Contact us today to learn how Key-Whitman can help you manage your glaucoma
If you would like to learn more about glaucoma screening and treatment
options, Dr. Warren is here to help. She is one of Key-Whitman’s
top glaucoma specialists and is experienced in all areas of general ophthalmology.
A skilled and respected eye surgeon, Dr. Warren has been awarded
D Magazine’s, D’s BEST in Collin County, Best Doctor – Ophthalmology and
LASIK, for six years running.
In addition, Key-Whitman regularly participates in clinical research to
advance treatments and surgical procedures for a variety eye diseases
To learn more about clinical trials at Key-Whitman or to schedule an eye
appointment with Dr. Warren at Key-Whitman’s Plano office (or to
schedule an eye exam at our Dallas, Arlington or Mesquite locations)
(972) 905-9128, or feel free to set up an appointment online here.
Photo Source: Adobe Stock
Posted in: Glaucoma