Over two million Americans are affected with glaucoma, and nearly half are not aware they have the disease. Although glaucoma can occur at any age, the risk of developing glaucoma increases after age 35. It is commonly referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because you will feel virtually no symptoms until the disease is very advanced. Glaucoma is known to damage the optic nerve, which sends information from your eyes to your brain. When glaucoma damages the optic nerve, you will begin to lose peripheral vision. Unfortunately, once vision is lost, it can never be regained.
The most common misconception about glaucoma is that it is considered a diagnosis only if high intraocular pressure is present, which is not always the case. In fact, many glaucoma cases have low pressure. It is for this reason that specialty testing for glaucoma involves numerous different analyses of the optic nerve and fluid outflow of the eye. Generally, multiple eye medications and laser procedures are initially tried to control pressure; if these treatments are unsuccessful, glaucoma surgery is often needed to save vision. Newsom Eye doctors and technicians perform specific testing to determine if a patient has glaucoma. With early detection and treatment, glaucoma can almost always be controlled to help retain vision. At Newsom Eye, our range of glaucoma treatment plans can help preserve your current vision and prevent future loss.
A patient that presents risk factors, such as age, ethnic background, elevated eye pressure, a family history of glaucoma, prior eye injuries or surgeries can be considered at risk for glaucoma. These, and other possible risk factors, will be discussed upon reviewing your medical history. Much like diabetes and high blood pressure, it is sometimes difficult to immediately diagnose glaucoma. Using specific tests to confirm the diagnosis or label the individual a “watch patient”, Newsom Eye doctors can determine whether glaucoma management or treatment is necessary.
Newsom Eye has successfully treated the various forms of Glaucoma including:
These are the most common types of Glaucoma in addition to Normal Tension Glaucoma. Many doctors and patients mistake high Intraocular Pressure (IOP) for Glaucoma, which is not always the case. Newsom Eye can quickly diagnose the various types of Glaucoma and get you on the road to recovery.
A glaucoma suspect is a patient that presents with one of many possible risk factors. Newsom Eye performs a complete work up to determine if the suspect has Glaucoma. Much like diabetes and high blood pressure, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose Glaucoma immediately. Studies are needed to confirm the diagnosis or label the individual “watch patient”. Even if a patient does not have elevated pressure, other symptoms, or any family history of Glaucoma, Newsom Eye can make the determination.
A standard work-up for a Glaucoma suspect involves asking family history (very important), prior eye medical care (has this been discussed before or testing performed?) and getting a proper technician and doctor work-up.
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Newsom Eye Patient Debra Schrils Discusses Glaucoma
The video below was a previous television interview featuring Dr. Newsom and his Glaucoma patient Debra Schrils. This is something everyone should see…
South Tampa resident Debra Schrils suffered from a serious case of Glaucoma. The normal eye pressure is under 20 and Debra’s eye pressure was 55! There was a very high risk for loss of vision.
Her regular physician referred her to Dr. Newsom on New Year’s Eve two years ago. Naturally concerned about her elevated pressure, Dr. Newsom worked to first reduce the pressure using medications. Comfortable with the results, she went home for the evening and was asked to return on New Year’s Day, January 1st, to re-check the pressure. Debra’s eye pressure was stabilized using the medications.
Two weeks later, Dr. Newsom was able to implement a laser corrective surgical procedure that reduced the pressure and permitted Debra’s life to return to normal, no longer in need of those many medications to control her eye pressure.
The Right Test for Glaucoma
Newsom Eye offers several different Glaucoma testing techniques, and each one provides more information about the health of the eye. Testing can be quite extensive as the team at Newsom Eye aims to learn as much as possible about each patient, and the progression of the disease.
- Visual Field This is required to analyze and document the peripheral vision of the patient. Peripheral vision is what glaucoma damages over time.
- IOP Intraocular pressure. Increased pressure in the eye is usually present in patients who develop glaucoma, though high pressure alone does not cause glaucoma.
- Gonioscopy will typically be performed on the first visit to Newsom Eye, or soon thereafter. This technique examines the location on the eye where fluid drains out. Many glaucoma patients do not have normal anatomy at this location, and Gonioscopy can be a key to successful treatment.
- Optic nerve photography is also very important to the team of professionals at Newsom Eye. This technique provides photographic evidence of the optic nerve itself. As with the diagnosis of cancer, photographs are an invaluable method of detecting Glaucoma.
- HRT or Optical Coherence Tomorography (OCT) are the modern technologies that Newsom Eye uses to laser scan the nerve fiber layer of the optic nerve. This not only analyzes against a database for disease, but also stores the findings for future reference with the patient to detect even the slightest progression of the disease.
- Pachymetry is used to measure the central corneal thickness which we now know is an important data point of reference for glaucoma risk
- ERG - measures how well the retina is working. An ERG useful in evaluating both inherited (hereditary) and acquired disorders and helps determining whether surgery is necessary.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Newsom Eye offers more than one treatment of Glaucoma including conventional daily eye drops, observation and diagnostics. In addition, Newsom Eye offers a safe and effective laser treatment that is covered by most medical insurance policies. Laser trabelculoplasty or SLT is performed is more effective at lowering the pressure inside the eye. This advanced laser treatment can keep a patient off expensive medication and has virtually no side effects. See below for a video on the SLT procedure and more information about the treatments available at Newsom Eye.