What is glaucoma?
There are many different types of glaucoma that can result in optic nerve damage. Increased fluid build-up inside the eye (increased intraocular pressure) is an important risk factor for the development of glaucoma. The optic nerve acts as a channel to relay messages to the brain. As the optic nerve deteriorates, you will begin to lose peripheral (side) vision first.
Amazingly, often at least 50% of the optic nerve is damaged before any vision is lost at all. By the time a person notices vision loss, often over 90% of optic nerve damage has occurred. In fact, some people are legally blind before they ever seek medical attention.
Who gets glaucoma?
Anyone can get glaucoma. However, those at higher risk to develop glaucoma are:
- Persons over the age of 60
- Persons of African American and Latino/Hispanic descent
- Relatives of persons with glaucoma
- Very nearsighted (myopic) people
- Persons with diabetes
- Persons with extensive steroid use
Everyone should have a thorough glaucoma exam around the age of 40, then every two to four years afterward. If you are of African or Latino/Hispanic descent, over age 60 or have a family history of glaucoma it is recommended that you have a thorough exam every one to two years after age 35. Patients diagnosed with glaucoma are routinely examined even more frequently.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
A typical glaucoma screening examination involves the following tests:
- Tonometry: measures the pressure within your eye
- Gonioscopy: examines the drainage angle of the eye
- Perimetry (visual field testing): tests for peripheral and central vision loss
- Ophthalmoscopy: magnified eye exam to look for optic nerve damage and other ocular findings that may predispose a patient to developing glaucoma
BoozmanHof offers the latest imaging technology available to patients: Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography (Cirrus HD-OCT). This state-of-the-art device allows your doctor to detect glaucoma earlier and helps monitor progression of the glaucoma and glaucoma symptoms.
How is glaucoma treated?
There is no cure for glaucoma, however treatments are available that can slow disease progression:
- Eye drops: eye drops are prescribed to help decrease eye pressure. This is the most common method of treatment.
- Laser surgery: laser surgery can be performed to raise the flow of fluid in patients with open-angle glaucoma. For patients with angle-closure glaucoma, laser surgery can help remove fluid blockage.
- Trabeculectomy: a form of microsurgery where a channel is created to drain fluid, reducing eye pressure.