Glaucoma-Cataract Consultants

Glaucoma

  • Overview
  • Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve and causes vision loss - often without warning and symptoms. Like a cable wire, the optic nerve is responsible for carrying the images we see to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve can occur when the pressure within the eye increases, usually due to a build-up of aqueous fluid inside the eye. This leads to the development of blind spots in our field of vision. However, damage may occur without elevation of the intra-ocular pressure. Conversely, the pressure may at times be elevated without damaging the optic nerve. This is a condition known as Ocular Hypertension. Blind spots in the field of vision usually go undetected by the individual until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and a great loss of peripheral or central vision has occurred. A Visual Field evaluation can detect glaucomatous damage in its very early stages. If the disease is untreated the optic nerve may be damaged to a point that irreversible blindness will result.

    Glaucoma, often called the "sneak thief of sight" because it usually has no symptoms, affects about 3 million Americans and 67 million people worldwide. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, particularly among the elderly population.

    Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma. This can be provided by your optometrist or ophthalmologist.

  • Types
  • There are several different types of glaucoma, including:

    • Chronic open-angle glaucoma - This is the most common form in the U.S. and the risk increases with age.
    • Angle-closure glaucoma - This occurs when the drainage angle of the eye becomes completely blocked. The drainage angle created by the iris and the cornea may narrow to the point of closure inhibiting the exit of aqueous fluid from the front of the eye. This leads to a significant elevation of intra-ocular pressure. Prompt treatment is required to prevent damage to the eye. This can occur as an acute problem or may be chronic in nature.
  • Symptoms
  • In most cases, there are no warning signs of glaucoma. In the later stages of the disease, some symptoms may occur. These can include:

    • loss of side vision (also called peripheral vision)
    • difficulty focusing on close work
    • seeing colored rings or halos around lights
    • headaches and eye pain
    • frequent changes of prescription glasses
    • difficulty adjusting to dark environments
    Risk factors for glaucoma include age, family history of glaucoma, African ancestry, diabetes, and past eye injuries.

    The best way to find out if you have glaucoma is to get regular and complete eye exams.

  • Treatment/ Glaucoma-Cataract Consultants, Inc. Services
  • Medications

    Glaucoma is usually treated with daily eye drops that decrease eye pressure either by slowing the amount of fluid produced within the eye or by improving the flow through the drainage angle. Glaucoma medications may produce side effects, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.

    Laser Surgery

    Laser surgery treatments may be recommended for certain types of glaucoma. In open-angle glaucoma, a laser can be used to modify the drain to help control eye pressure.

    In angle-closure glaucoma, the laser can be used to create a hole in the iris to improve the flow of aqueous to the drainage angle.

    Standard Surgery

    In a standard, operating room procedure, your doctor can also use fine, microsurgical instruments to create a new drainage channel for outflow of aqueous fluid.

    Though serious complications of modern glaucoma surgery are uncommon, they can occur. Surgery is recommended if your ophthalmologist feels that it is necessary to prevent further damage to the optic nerve.

    For more information please visit www.glaucoma.org

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