What is Glaucoma?
Your eyes are made up mostly of a watery substance called aqueous fluid that is continuously produced from within the eye. There also exists a drainage point that allows fluid to exit at the same rate new fluid is produced. This maintains a perfect balance of pressure that actually creates the shape of your eyes.
Glaucoma exists when something impairs the drainage system of your eye, causing an increase in pressure. Your eye pressure increases because fluid is now being produced more rapidly then it is draining. This is a hazardous condition because the pressure increase can damage the sensitive optic nerves, and in turn damage your vision.
What are the Symptoms?
When a person suffers from Glaucoma, he or she will begin to lose their peripheral vision. Untreated, the disease will eventually progress to complete blindness. Glaucoma is actually called the ‘silent thief of sight,’ because there are often no symptoms until permanent damage has been done. That is why routine eye exams are essential to ensure the health of your eyes.
Am I at Risk for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma can affect anyone, and the risk increases as we age. However, there are several circumstances that can increase your odds of developing the condition.
Higher risk factor groups include:
- A Family History of Glaucoma
- People over the age of 50
- People with diabetes
- People suffering from hypertension
- People with anemia
Again, anyone who falls into one of the categories above needs to pay more attention to their eye health because they are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, and the best way to do so is to maintain a regular eye exam schedule with your ophthalmologist.
How is Glaucoma Detected?
Thanks to new technology, doctors at Victoria Eye Center can detect glaucoma quickly, painlessly, and without dilation using the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph III (HRT). This diagnostic laser generates a precise and comprehensive analysis of the optic nerve for early detection and follow-up in a matter of seconds.
During your glaucoma evaluation, your doctor will measure your intraocular pressure (tonometry), inspect the drainage angle of your eye (gonioscopy), evaluate whether or not there is any optic nerve damage (ophthalmoscopy), and test the peripheral vision of each eye (visual field testing).
Treatment for Glaucoma
Unfortunately, glaucoma is an incurable disease. The good news is there are several treatment options that can effectively lower the pressure in your eye, and alleviate any risks of nerve damage.
Common treatments for glaucoma include:
- Prescription Medicine – these can be taken orally or topically, and can increase the drainage of fluid, slow down the production of fluid, or both.
- Laser Surgery – a simple outpatient procedure where a laser is applied to the opening to increase drainage
- Conventional Surgery – Your surgeon creates another drainage hole at the top of your eye. Often the next step after laser treatment and medication are deemed unsuccessful.
- Glaucoma Shunt – A small tube is placed within the drainage hole, keeping it open. It is extremely effective, but also the most invasive, making it the last option of treatment.
If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last year, please schedule an exam today with Victoria Eye Center. We offer the latest in glaucoma treatment, and early detection is the best way to assure you a lifetime of clear vision.
For more information, watch our informational video or check out these useful resources: