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The eye disease that steals sight with no early symptoms

July 27, 2022

You may have heard the term “glaucoma” before, but what is it really?

How do you know if you have it?

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged over time due to elevated pressure in the eye, resulting in vision loss.

  1. There are not many noticeable symptoms.
  2. Regular eye exams are the only way to identify elevated eye pressure.
  3. Regular eye exams are the only way to prevent blindness from glaucoma.
  4. Early detection is key!
  5. A yearly eye exam is your best bet in preventing vision loss.

 Causes and Risk Factors:

The main risk factor for glaucoma is elevated pressure within the eye. This is an imbalance between the rate at which the aqueous humor is produced and the rate it leaves the eye. The aqueous humor is the clear fluid filling the space in the front of the eyeball between the lens and the cornea. Increased intraocular pressure over time causes damage to the optic nerve which connects the eye and the brain, causing irreversible vision loss.

There are several components and risk factors that Dr. Kenneth Van Amerongen will investigate.

  • Age: Can begin as early as 40 years old
  • Race: African Americans have a higher risk and are more likely to suffer permanent vision loss.
  • Family History: If someone in your family has a history of glaucoma it increases your risk.
  • Medical conditions: Diabetes and High Blood Pressure may increase your risk of developing glaucoma.

 Diagnosis:

You might be wondering how to know if you are suffering from glaucoma.

At your annual comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Van will check your eye pressure with a Tonometer. After special numbing drops are placed in your eyes, Dr. Van gently places a small plastic cone against your corneas. The resistance measurement of the cornea indicates whether the eye pressure is high, medium, or low.  The method is painless and only takes a few seconds to complete. Your results will be available right away. Dr. Van will explain what they mean and the next steps if treatment is necessary.

Treatments:

Luckily there are many treatments available to patients who are experiencing glaucoma. They range from eyedrops to surgery depending on the needs of the patient.

  • Glaucoma medications are eyedrops that can be used daily to decrease eye pressure by decreasing the amount of fluid made, increasing the outflow of fluid, or both.
  • SLT surgery is the use of Laser energy applied to the drainage tissue in the eye. This starts a chemical and biological change in the tissue that results in better drainage of fluid through the drain and out of the eye. This eventually results in a lowering of the intraocular pressure or IOP. It may take 1-3 months for the results to appear.
  • Minimally Invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) is a surgery using shunts that lower eye pressure.
  • These treatments may be combined for maximum pressure lowering.
  • Van will recommend the best local eye surgeon for your glaucoma situation.

What Should You Do?

No one should be afraid of glaucoma, but they should also not ignore it. Annual eye exams are the key to catching this silent condition

Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma are critical to ensure your vision remains healthy. The best way to manage your eye health is to have an annual comprehensive eye exam. Call Van’s Eyecare today to schedule an appointment.