Glaucoma treatment

We explore the ins and outs of glaucoma treatment, the risks of the condition, and what to expect when having glaucoma surgery.


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Glaucoma treatment costs and locations

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition where the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain becomes damaged. This causes a loss of peripheral vision. It’s most often caused by pressure building in the front part of the eye which then affects the rest of the organ. It is one of the most common eye problems, particularly in people over the age of 60. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.

People with glaucoma often don’t even realise they have the condition until it’s picked up during optician visits.

Types of glaucoma

There are four different types of glaucoma:

  • open-angle
  • angle-closure (also called closed-angle)
  • congenital
  • secondary.

The most common type of glaucoma by far is open-angle.

Symptoms of glaucoma

Initially, glaucoma doesn’t typically cause symptoms. However, as time goes on, there is a risk of vision loss. Unfortunately, once this sight is lost, the damage is irreversible. This can take months or even years to develop.

In some cases, glaucoma can cause other symptoms. These include:

  • eye pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • seeing colours around lights
  • redness or tenderness around the eyes.

Causes of glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of pressure in the front of the eye. This pressure damages the nerve at the back of the eye which, in turn, causes a loss of peripheral vision which slowly advances to affect central vision. In extreme cases glaucoma can lead to a total loss of sight.

Glaucoma risk factors

Anyone can develop glaucoma but there are certain demographics and types of people with an elevated risk. These include:

  • anyone over 60 years old
  • those with a family history of the condition
  • people with diabetes
  • people from an afro-caribbean background
  • people who are short-sighted.


If you suspect you might have some of the symptoms of glaucoma, book an eye exam with your optician as soon as possible. There are five tests your eye doctor can run to diagnose whether you have glaucoma. These tests are:

  • inner eye pressure (or intraocular pressure)
  • shape of the optic nerve
  • field of vision
  • cornea thickness
  • the angle of where the iris meets the cornea.

Treatments for glaucoma

Having glaucoma might sound like a daunting prospect as treatment won’t cure the condition. However, timely intervention can stop the symptoms of glaucoma from developing.
As part of treatment, glaucoma patients are monitored on a regular basis, depending on the severity of the condition. This requires a scan of the optic nerve and a visual field test.

There are several ways to treat the condition. We explore below what these are.

Glaucoma medication

There isn’t any specific medication in tablet form for glaucoma. The majority of medication comes in the form of eye drops.

Glaucoma treatment – eye drops

One of the best forms of glaucoma treatment is with eye drops. These help to lower the pressure in your eye and, thus, prevent further damage to your optic nerve.

Laser treatment for glaucoma

Glaucoma laser surgery (also called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty) works by opening the blocked drainage tubes in the eye.

Surgical treatment for glaucoma

Surgery is only performed in extreme circumstances or where other means of treatment have failed. There are various types of surgery for glaucoma. The majority focus on either increasing the amount of fluid that escapes the eye, or reducing the amount of fluid produced.

Glaucoma surgery types

Although not common, surgery is possible to treat glaucoma. The type of eye surgery you have will depend on your specific need. The three main types of glaucoma surgery are:

  • Trabeculectomy
  • Aqueous shunt insertion surgery
  • minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.

Please note, none of these procedures are available with Practice Plus Group. Please discuss any of the above surgeries in more detail with your glaucoma specialist.

Glaucoma surgery success rate

Glaucoma surgery has a high success rate (between 70-90%). Please note there is no cure for glaucoma. Successful treatment will only slow the rate of the condition’s development.

Glaucoma surgery side effects and risks

While glaucoma surgery has a high success rate, there are risks. For example, it’s possible you may completely lose your vision or develop an infection in the eye following the procedure. Your doctor can explain all the potential risks with you.

Glaucoma surgery costs in the UK

Depending on the type of surgery needed, the cost is typically between £3,000-£5,000. This varies depending on hospital location in the UK.

Laser treatment for glaucoma cost

Some hospitals offer laser treatment for glaucoma surgery. This typically costs between £3,000-£5,000 depending on the type of procedure.

Preparing for surgery or treatment

Waiting for surgery can feel like a stressful time, but there are some things you can do to prepare for surgery. These include:

  • removing trip hazards around your home
  • enlisting the help and support of friends and family
  • making sure you’re fit and maintaining a healthy weight.

Recovery and aftercare

Recovery times and procedures vary depending on the type of glaucoma surgery you had. With any surgery there are associated risks and these vary for each procedure. We recommend you discuss these with your glaucoma specialist. For example, some patients will notice an improvement in their vision within a few weeks, while for others it may take months. Some patients will experience itchy eyes, while others may have some residual pain in the days following surgery.

Your doctor will be able to explain what to expect while on the road to recovery.

Choosing Practice Plus Group for your glaucoma treatment

If you’d like to access private glaucoma surgery at Practice Plus Group, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can access treatment at Practice Plus Group via self-pay, private medical insurance, or NHS referral from your GP or optometrist. If you are choosing self-pay or insured, your initial consultation is just £95.

Call 0333 060 4139, or fill out our contact form below.

Glaucoma treatment FAQs

Not quite found the information you’re looking for? Our glaucoma FAQs might be able to help.

Unfortunately not. Treatment for glaucoma will only slow the condition’s progress. There is currently no known cure.

One word: treatment. This can be in the form of laser surgery or through medication.

This depends on the type of treatment required, your specific needs, and the recommendation of your doctor. Eye drops, laser surgery, and other medication can all be effective depending on the patient.

The most common treatment for glaucoma is the use of prescribed eye drops.

Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) features the most recent updates in the field of glaucoma treatment. There are a range of devices available and we recommend you discuss these in more detail with your glaucoma specialist.

Surgery is generally only recommended when other treatments have proven ineffective. Your doctor will be able to recommend when surgery is needed.

The success rate for laser glaucoma treatment is generally rated as two out of three. However, it won’t cure the condition and most patients will likely need to continue taking pre-existing glaucoma medication.

As with any type of surgery, there are risks you’ll need to consider. Your doctor can explain all the potential risks with you.

The surgery itself usually takes between one and two hours depending on what’s required during the procedure.

In some cases, patients are put to sleep but generally the surgeon will apply a local anaesthetic to numb the eye.

No. This is due to the anaesthetic you’ll be given during the procedure. It’s possible you’ll experience some discomfort after the surgery has finished.

Glaucoma surgery is generally considered a major procedure due to its intricate nature.

This depends on the patient and the type of surgery they had. Some patients report an improvement in their vision within weeks. For others though, it may take a month or two.

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