What is Glaucoma
Over two million Americans are affected with glaucoma, and nearly half aren’t aware they have the disease. It’s commonly referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because you’ll feel virtually no symptoms until the disease is very advanced. Unfortunately, once vision is lost, it can never be regained.
Our range of glaucoma treatment plans can help preserve your current vision and prevent future loss.
Who is at risk
Glaucoma can occur in people of all races at any age. However, the likelihood of developing glaucoma increases if you:
- are African American
- have a relative with glaucoma
- are diabetic
- are very nearsighted
- are over 35 years of age
Everyone should be checked for glaucoma at around age 35 and again at age 40. Those considered to be at higher risk, including those over the age of 60 should have their pressure checked every year or two.
Your doctor will use tonometry to check your eye pressure. After applying numbing drops, the tonometer is gently pressed against the eye and its resistance is measured and recorded.
An ophthalmoscope can be used to examine the shape and color of your optic nerve. The ophthalmoscope magnifies and lights up the inside of the eye. If the optic nerve appears to be cupped or is not a healthy pink color, additional tests will be run.
Perimetry is a test that maps the field of vision. Looking straight ahead into a white, bowl-shaped area, you’ll indicate when you’re able to detect lights as they are brought into your field of vision. This map allows your doctor to see any pattern of visual changes caused by the early stages of glaucoma.
Gonioscopy is used to check whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open or closed. This helps your doctor determine if they are dealing with open-angle glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma.
Ninety percent of glaucoma patients have open-angle glaucoma. Although it cannot be cured, it can usually be controlled. Vision loss may be minimized with early treatment. The eye receives its nourishment from a clear fluid that circulates inside the eye.
This fluid must be constantly returned to the bloodstream through the eye’s drainage canal, called the trabecular meshwork. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, something has gone wrong with the drainage canal. When the fluid cannot drain fast enough, pressure inside the eye begins to build.This excess fluid pressure pushes against the delicate optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain. If the pressure remains too high for too long, irreversible vision loss can occur.
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma:
- In the early stages, there are no symptoms. There is no pain or outward sign of trouble.
- Mild aching in the eyes
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision (the top, sides and bottom areas of vision)
- Seeing halos around lights
- Reduced visual acuity (especially at night, that is not correctable with glasses)
Treatments for open-angle glaucoma:
To control glaucoma, your doctor will use one of three basic types of treatment: medicines, laser surgery, or filtration surgery. The goal of treatment is to lower the pressure in the eye.
MicroPulse Laser Trabeculoplasty and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty surgery treat the drainage canal. Requiring only numbing eye drops, the laser beam is applied to the trabecular meshwork resulting in an improved rate of drainage. When laser surgery is successful, it may reduce the need for daily medications.
(also called Closed-Angle Glaucoma)
Narrow-angle glaucoma is much more rare and is very different from open-angle glaucoma in that eye pressure usually goes up very fast. This happens when the drainage canals get blocked or covered over. The iris gets pushed against the lens of the eye, shutting off the drainage angle. Sometimes the lens and the iris stick to each other. This results in pressure increasing suddenly, usually in one eye. There may be a feeling of fullness in the eye along with reddening, swelling and blurred vision.
Symptoms of narrow-angle glaucoma:
The onset of acute narrow-angle glaucoma is typically rapid, constituting an emergency. If not treated promptly, this glaucoma produces blindness in the affected eye in three to five days. Symptoms may include:
- Inflammation and pain
- Pressure over the eye
- Moderate pupil dilation that’s non-reactive to light
- Cloudy cornea
- Blurring and decreased visual acuity
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Seeing halos around lights
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Causes of narrow-angle glaucoma:
- Defect in the eye structure
- Anything that causes the pupil to dilate — dim lighting, dilation drops
- Certain oral or injected medications
- Blow to the eye
- Diabetes-related growth of abnormal blood vessels over the angle