Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. Usually patients are unaware of early symptoms as the disease progresses slowly. In fact, nearly half of an estimated three million Americans who have glaucoma are aware they have the condition. However, if left untreated, glaucoma can gradually steal your sight and can ultimately lead to blindness. Fortunately, early detection and prescribed treatment from the professionals at Great Lakes Eye Institute can preserve your vision.
What Causes Glaucoma?
There are different types of glaucoma: Chronic Open-angle, Normal-tension, Acute Closed Angle, Secondary Glaucoma, and Congenital Glaucoma. In the most common cases, it is caused by a gradual blocking of fluid drainage causing fluid pressure to increase. Normally, this fluid (called aqueous humor) leaves the eye through a drainage system and returns to the blood stream. Glaucoma occurs when high pressure causes damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. Symptoms include blurred vision and blind spots that develop in your peripheral (side) vision. These spots may not be noticeable until the optic nerve has become severely damaged or until detected during a comprehensive eye exam.
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
While treatments vary, all are concentrated on lowering the pressure inside the eye to prevent damage to the optic nerve. Most commonly, medications in the form of eye drops and pills are the first choice that we prescribe to promote faster drainage of fluid from the eye, while other medications reduce the production of fluid. In some patients, surgery is recommended to improve the flow of fluid. A procedure called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) is often used to treat open-angle glaucoma. This same laser procedure may also be used as a first line of treatment for patients who are unwilling or unable to use glaucoma eyedrops. For patients with closed-angle glaucoma a procedure called laser iridotomy is often recommended.
There are a number of ways to treat glaucoma. Your Great Lakes Eye Institute professional will discuss the options available to you. In most cases, glaucoma can be detected with a routine eye examination well before you experience any vision problems. That is why it is important to have regular eye exams at Great Lakes Eye Institute – especially if you’re over the age of 35 or in high-risk groups.