Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is the second highest cause of permanent blindness in North America and it's a fairly common eye disease. However, with early detection and treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
When a person has glaucoma, there is deterioration in the nerve fibers at the back of the eye which ultimately results in vision loss. The most common form of glaucoma is called open angle glaucoma.
Who's at Risk
People over the age of 40
Family history of glaucoma
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Previously measured high eye pressure
If you have more than one of the risk factor, the chance of developing glaucoma is much higher.
Some of the symptoms for glaucoma include:
Patchy blind spots in your side (peripheral) or central vision, frequently in both eyes
Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Acute angle-closure glaucoma
Nausea and vomiting
Halos around lights
Promptly go to an emergency room or your eye doctor's office if you experience some of the symptoms. Regular eye exams are the key to detecting glaucoma early enough to successfully slow or prevent vision loss.
Glaucoma treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.
Glaucoma Medication - These glaucoma medications include eye drops or pills and they are designed to reduce pressure by reducing the production of fluid in the eye. Some are also designed to help improve drainage of intraocular fluid from the eye.
Laser Trabeculoplasty - Will help fluid drain out of the eye and your ophthalmologist may suggest this step at any time. Usually you will need to keep taking glaucoma medicines after this procedure. The treatment is performed in your ophthalmologist’s office or eye clinic and before the surgery, numbing drops are applied to your eye. During the procedure you will sit facing a laser machine while your ophthalmologist holds a special lens to your eye. A high-intensity beam of light is aimed through the lens and reflected onto the meshwork inside your eye. You may see flashes of bright green or red light. The laser makes several evenly spaced burns that stretch the drainage holes in the meshwork which will allow the fluid to drain better.
Although laser surgery can successfully treat glaucoma, the effects of laser surgery may wear off and patients may need to have additional surgery or may need to keep taking glaucoma drugs in order to control the glaucoma.
Conventional surgery - During surgery a new opening will be created for the fluid to leave the eye. Your ophthalmologist may suggest this treatment at any time. Conventional surgery often is done after medicines and laser surgery have failed to control pressure.
If you feel you are at risk or would like more details please schedule an appointment with one of our Optometrists.