What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve usually due to high pressure. The optic nerve is the connection to the brain and unfortunately damage due to glaucoma is irreversible.  It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Glaucoma is often referred to as the “silent thief” of vision, as the most common type, primary open angle glaucoma, is slowly progressive with little to no signs until advanced stage. It is for this reason, that approximately half of the people with the disease are unaware and not diagnosed. The diagnosis of glaucoma is often made during a routine eye exam and then confirmed with diagnostic testing including multiple eye pressure measurements, pachymetry, gonioscopy, visual field test and optic coherence tomography. A dilated comprehensive eye exam and early treatment is the best defense against disease progression. The optometrists at Blahnik Eye Care have excellent experience and the most modern technology in eye care to diagnosis and treat most cases of glaucoma. Schedule an eye exam today.

A less common form of the disease, acute angle glaucoma, is considered a medical emergency with usually severely raised pressure, pain, nausea and possibility of acute visual loss. The risk factors for narrow angle glaucoma can be addressed in a routine eye exam limiting the risk of a sudden attack with prophylactic laser surgery options (laser peripheral iridotomy). An acute attack requires urgent medical management and surgery with an experienced glaucoma ophthalmologist.

Who is at risk for primary open angle glaucoma? People at the greatest risk are generally over 40 years old, those with a family history of the disease, those that are near-sighted, those with thinner corneas, patients with a diagnosis of diabetes, having chronic higher eye pressure. The disease does occur more frequently in African American and Hispanic patients.

What’s involved in glaucoma treatment?

Although there is no cure for common forms of the disease, the majority of patients can be managed with proper diagnosis and treatment. Once patients are diagnosed treatment usually begins with eye drops. Some patients obtaining good eye pressure control  with one medication and others requiring multiple eye drops. If the disease is advanced, unable to be adequately controlled or when topical medication is not acceptable patients are referred to an ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma for laser surgery or medical management with surgeries including trabeculectomy and tube-shunt procedures.