What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions most commonly developed after age thirty-five, which can result in vision loss or blindness if left untreated. It is typically caused by increased pressure in the eye, often due to a buildup of fluid in the eye’s anterior chamber. This pressure ultimately creates damage to the optic nerve. Because the optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual signals from the eye to the brain, changes in vision then occur. There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure.
Symptoms of glaucoma can range in severity, but often include blurred vision, halos around lights, eye pain, and redness in the eye. As glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss, regular eye exams are essential to catching it early and beginning treatment to prevent further damage to the optic nerve. Treatment options typically include eye drops, oral medications, laser therapy or surgery to reduce intraocular pressure and protect the optic nerve.
Open-Angle vs. Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases. It occurs when the drainage angle between the iris and cornea becomes blocked, preventing fluid from draining properly from the eye. This causes an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) which can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. Open-angle glaucoma typically develops slowly over time and may not cause any symptoms until it has advanced significantly. Treatment usually involves medications or surgery to reduce IOP and protect vision.
Angle-closure glaucoma is a less common form of glaucoma that occurs when the drainage angle between the iris and cornea becomes completely blocked, causing a sudden increase in IOP. Symptoms include severe pain, nausea, blurred vision, halos around lights, redness in the eye, and headache. Angle-closure glaucoma is considered an ocular emergency since it can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated. Treatment typically involves medications or laser surgery to open up the drainage angle so that fluid can drain properly again.
The key difference between open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma is how quickly they develop. Open-angle typically develops slowly over time while angle-closure develops suddenly due to a complete blockage of fluid outflow from the eye. Both types of glaucoma are serious conditions that require prompt diagnosis and treatment in order to prevent permanent vision loss.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
It’s important to remember that vision changes related to glaucoma can occur gradually. This means it can be difficult to notice them, which is why regular eye exams are critical (especially as you age!).
If you have a specific concern about your vision, begin by scheduling an appointment ASAP with your ophthalmologist. During the appointment, the doctor will conduct a comprehensive eye exam. This generally includes:
- Checking your visual acuity
- Measuring your intraocular pressure
- Examining the optic nerve for signs of damage
Your doctor may also use imaging tests such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) or ultrasound scans to look for any abnormalities.
Besides these, your doctor may also ask you questions about your family history of glaucoma and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. Your doctor may also recommend additional tests such as tonometry or pachymetry if they suspect you have glaucoma.
This information allows your ophthalmologist to diagnose whether or not you have glaucoma. It also helps them determine what type it is (open-angle or angle-closure) and what acuity. Your doctors can then discuss treatment options with you and create a plan for managing your condition.
What are my Glaucoma Treatment Options?
Treatment options largely depend on the severity and type of glaucoma diagnosed. Treatment aims at reducing the intraocular pressure in the eye which prevents further optic nerve damage. There are various treatment options available, including medication, LASIK (laser) therapy, and MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery).
Medicated eye drops are commonly used to lower intraocular pressure by either reducing the production of fluid in the eye or increasing its outflow. Other common medications used include:
- prostaglandin analogs
- alpha-adrenergic agonists
- carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
It’s important to note these medications can have side effects such as eye irritation, redness, and blurred vision. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your ophthalmologist.
In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to lower intraocular pressure. These procedures involve creating a new drainage pathway in the eye to reduce pressure. There are several types of glaucoma surgery, including trabeculoplasty and iridotomy. Another convenient option is the iSTENT implant, which is a minimally invasive form of surgery.
Your final choice of treatment will depend on your individual needs, lifestyle, and symptoms. Regular monitoring and follow-up appointments with an ophthalmologist are crucial to manage the condition and prevent further vision loss.
Here are some frequently asked questions about glaucoma, treatment options, and more!
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can cause damage to the optic nerve. This damage results in vision loss or blindness if left untreated. It is typically caused by increased pressure in the eye, which is often due to a buildup of fluid in the eye’s anterior chamber.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
Glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam that includes measuring the intraocular pressure, assessing the optic nerve, and evaluating the visual field. Other tests, such as imaging studies or gonioscopy, may also be performed to determine the type and severity of the condition.
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
When it comes down to it, anyone can develop glaucoma. However, there are certain risk factors. These include being over the age over 55, family history of glaucoma, having African American or Hispanic ethnicity, and having certain medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or nearsightedness.
Can Glaucoma be Prevented?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent glaucoma. However early detection and treatment can help preserve your remaining vision! Regular eye exams are also crucial, especially if you’re high-risk.
What are Some of the Typical Glaucoma Symptoms?
In the early stages, glaucoma may not cause any noticeable symptoms. As the condition progresses, symptoms may include blurred vision, halos around lights, eye pain, and redness in the eye. However, vision loss from glaucoma can be irreversible, which is why regular eye exams are so important.
Is Glaucoma Treatable?
Yes — treatment options include medication, laser therapy, and surgery to reduce intraocular pressure.
How is Glaucoma Treated with Medication?
Eye drops are commonly used to lower intraocular pressure by either reducing the production of fluid in the eye or increasing its outflow. Some common options are beta-blockers and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
How is Glaucoma Treated with LASIK (laser) Therapy?
Laser therapy is another treatment option for glaucoma. There are two types of laser therapy — trabeculoplasty and iridotomy. Trabeculoplasty is a procedure that involves using a laser to open the drainage canals in the eye, allowing fluid to flow out more easily and reducing intraocular pressure. Iridotomy is a procedure that involves creating a small hole in the iris to improve the outflow of fluid and reduce pressure in the eye.
When is Surgery Necessary for Glaucoma?
In more severe cases of glaucoma, surgery is often necessary. Surgery will work to lower intraocular pressure by creating a new drainage pathway in the eye. Another option is the iSTENT implant.
What is the Prognosis for Glaucoma?
With early detection and treatment, the prognosis for glaucoma is generally good. However, vision loss that has already occurred cannot be reversed, which is why regular eye exams and early intervention are so important.
You Deserve Newsom Eyes!
Here at Newsom eye, we’re changing eye care standards for the better with every patient. We’re a renowned clinic that offers comprehensive care and treatment for a variety of eye conditions, including glaucoma. We know that glaucoma can be a daunting diagnosis, but our team is here to help you every step of the way.
Remember, the best treatment for glaucoma is to catch it as early as possible by scheduling regular eye exams. This is because damage that occurs from glaucoma can be irreversible without intervention. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma or are experiencing symptoms, seeking prompt treatment from a team of experienced eye specialists is crucial.
Our team of specialists is committed to providing personalized care and treatment options to help manage and treat your glaucoma effectively. From medication to LASIK therapy to iSTENT implant surgery, we offer a range of treatment options tailored to your individual needs. Our doctors will utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, years of experience, and compassionate care to develop a customized treatment plan that works for you. We also offer ongoing monitoring and follow-up care to ensure that your treatment is working effectively and that your condition is properly managed. Don’t let glaucoma compromise your vision and quality of life. Contact Newsom Eye today to schedule a consultation with one of our glaucoma specialists and take the first step toward preserving your vision.