Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States and can affect patients of all ages, many who do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease.
Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve as a result of increased pressure within the eye but can also be caused by a severe eye infection, injury, blocked blood vessel or inflammatory conditions of the eye. We cannot emphasize enough why it is so important to have regular eye exams. Many individuals who are in the early stages of Glaucoma, show no symptoms at all.
This disease is a gradual “thief” of your eyesight and if left unattended will lead to blindness. Thankfully, early detection and treatment can stop this process.
Open Angle Glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. It involves fluid in the eye not draining properly through the trabecular mesh work, either as a result of excessive aqueous production or a blockage within the mesh work.
These drainage abnormalities cause internal eye pressure to increase as fluid builds up, which deprive the optic nerve of oxygen and nutrients. This leads to irreversible optic nerve damage. Often the damage caused by open-angle glaucoma is so slow that it isn’t until significant damage has taken place that it is noticed.
To reduce intraocular pressure, your physician may recommend iStent glaucoma treatment. The only FDA-approved device for the treatment of mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma.
Primary Angle Glaucoma
Primary Angle Glaucoma is also known as narrow-angle glaucoma. This condition affects approximately one out of every 10 glaucoma patients. It involves a blockage in the trabecular mesh work that can lead to symptoms such as redness, discomfort, blurred vision or headaches. This blockage may develop as a result of structural abnormalities, hyperopia or tumors located within the eye.
This form of glaucoma can also develop suddenly or gradually, depending on the cause. Most patients who develop angle-closure glaucoma are born with narrow drainage angles that put them at a higher risk for developing this condition.
Glaucoma, known as the “thief of sight” often causes no pain or other noticeable symptoms. Oftentimes it isn’t until the disease has progressed significantly that it is noticeable.
Later stages of the disease may cause a gradual loss of peripheral vision, as well as eye pain, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, halos around lights and other troubling symptoms. The type and severity of symptoms depends on the type of glaucoma and the patient’s eye and overall health.
Glaucoma can affect anyone from infants to the elderly. It has been estimated that up to 3 million Americans have glaucoma. At least half of those people do not know they have glaucoma because there are usually no symptoms.
- At least 45 years old without regular eye exams
- A family history of glaucoma
- Abnormally high eye pressure
- African descent
- Previous eye injury
- Regular, long term use of cortisone/steroid products
Our physicians will test your visual acuity, visual field, dilate your pupils and test the pressure in your eyes. Complete eye exams with our physicians will help to monitor the changes in your eyesight and will help us to determine whether you may develop glaucoma in the future.
We recommend that you have a dilated eye exam at least once every two years, especially for patients with a family history of glaucoma.
If you are at a higher risk for glaucoma our physicians may also perform other tests such as tonometry, to measure the pressure inside the eye, and pachymetry, to measure the thickness of the cornea.