What is Glaucoma?
Sometimes the eye’s drainage canals can become clogged over time. This causes fluid to build up in the eye. Glaucoma is the term for a group of eye diseases that result from this fluid build up. These diseases damage the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is a very common degenerative disease that often has no symptoms. Nearly 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma, but only about half are even aware that they have the disease. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss and even blindness.
Who is at Risk?
Although there are no overt symptoms of glaucoma, certain factors elevate a person’s risk for developing the disease. Risk factors include:
- People with elevated intraocular pressure
- People over the age of 60
- Those with a family history of glaucoma
- People of African descent and over the age of 40
- People with diabetes
People in these ‘at risk’ groups won’t experience any noticeable symptoms of the disease early on, so it is important to have regular eye examinations that include a test for glaucoma.
Are There Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Although treatable when caught early, glaucoma has no early warning signs. Until its advanced stages, most patients have no indication that the pressure in their eyes is elevated or that their optic nerve may be damaged.
The disease affects peripheral vision first—meaning you could have “perfect” 20/20 vision but still have glaucoma. This is why regular eye exams that include glaucoma testing performed by qualified ophthalmologists are vital.
The best way to keep glaucoma from robbing you of your eyesight is to have early and regular eye examinations by a professional ophthalmologist at Specialty Eye Institute. We offer state-of-the-art glaucoma detection methods and scanning laser diagnostics.
Simple and painless, an eye exam will alert you and your eye doctor early on so that an appropriate course of treatment can be taken. Early detection of glaucoma means more effective treatment of the disease. If you notice any of the following warning signs of glaucoma, please contact your ophthalmologist immediately:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Blurred vision
- Red, painful eyes
- Halos around lights
The professional ophthalmologists at the Specialty Eye Institute diagnose glaucoma as part of a routine eye examination. During the examination, the eye doctor will examine the optic nerve for damage and measure the intraocular pressure in the eyes, a painless procedure called tonometry.
If glaucoma is suspected, the doctor typically gives the patient a vision test to determine visual acuity for central and peripheral vision. The test takes about 20 to 30 minutes to perform and consists of flashes of light that the patient sees or does not see, with the patient pushing a button to alert the doctor when a flash is seen.
This method allows the doctor to accurately map the patient’s visual acuity and find the areas where vision may be affected. Checking intraocular pressure alone is insufficient to diagnose glaucoma. To protect your vision, it is essential to have early and regular eye examinations.
Once a diagnosis of glaucoma has been made, treatment depends on the form of the disease and its severity. Intraocular pressure is often reduced using eye drops or intravenous methods. In addition, laser surgery may be required to open the eye’s drainage system to allow fluid to drain. If these treatments do not work traditional surgery may be necessary.
Don’t risk your eyesight. Contact us today to schedule an eye examination.