Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve of the eye, causing gradual loss of vision. The optic nerve is responsible for transporting the images we see to our brains. When damage to this nerve occurs, blind spots can develop. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness is the result.
This is why early detection and treatment of Glaucoma is so important. Left untreated, irreversible blindness can result. Annual eye exams are recommended to catch Glaucoma in its early stages and ensure your overall eye health.
Glaucoma is currently the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. but the good news is loss of sight can be prevented by early treatment.
In simple terms, Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of pressure inside of the eye, which can cause damage to the optic nerve over time. This pressure is called intraocular pressure. In healthy eyes, this fluid pressure is naturally drained away, but when this drainage system is clogged, the pressure increases until damage occurs.
What are the different types of Glaucoma?
There are two different types of Glaucoma: Chronic open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma.
Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common in the United States, and the risk of developing it increases as we age. Treatment is needed to prevent total vision loss. This type of glaucoma doesn’t usually have symptoms in its early stages. This is why regular eye exams are so important.
Closed-angle glaucoma is considered an eye emergency, typically taking place in eyes that are formed with the iris too close to the eye’s drainage angle. If you begin to experience symptoms that include blurred vision, severe eye pain, headaches, and nausea and vomiting as well as rainbow colored halos forming around light sources you need to contact your eye doctor right away. This type of glaucoma can also be tricky, initially developing slowly with no symptoms until a full-on attack takes place.
Are you at risk?
Eye doctors will look at several factors to determine if you are at risk for developing glaucoma. These factors can include: Age, past eye injuries, vision history, your family health history, and health problems that may put you more at risk such as diabetes or poor circulation.
At Quigley Eye Specialists, we will take all these factors into consideration to decide if you need to be treated for glaucoma. If you are at a higher risk, but treatment is not yet required, we will monitor your eye health closely with regular examinations so we can detect the disease early and treat it successfully.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Regular eye examinations by your ophthalmologist at Quigley Eye Specialists is the most proactive way you can have glaucoma detected. A complete eye examination is needed to detect the presence of this disease.
What can you expect during an exam?
Measurement of the intraocular pressure in your eye
An examination of the drainage angle of your eye
An evaluation to determine if there is any optic nerve damage
A peripheral vision test
In some cases, photography of the optic nerve or computerized imaging may be utilized to get a better look at what’s going on internally. All of the above may also need to be repeated regularly to monitor any changes in the condition.
The damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, but further damage can be prevented. At Quigley Eye Specialists, we offer the most advanced treatment options, including the smallest device ever approved by the FDA called the iStent. The iStent is just one of several treatment options. Depending upon your specific condition, Dr. Nika Priest-Allen may prescribe eye drops, laser surgery, and at times more in-depth surgery that takes place in an operating room. No matter the treatment, regular examinations are important to monitor your condition.
Advances in technology
The use of Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a relatively recent technological advance that can be used as an early treatment in place of eye drops. It’s also covered by Medicare. This treatment can be done on its own, or in tandem with traditional laser surgery. Quigley Eye Specialists also offers the Micro-Pulse laser which can help reduce pressure if the drops and SLT are not effective for your specific condition. The Micro-Pulse is an out-patient procedure that can be very effective in managing your glaucoma.
More traditionally, glaucoma can be slowed by eye drops which need to be taken daily. These can help your vision last longer, but require regular use to be effective.
Surgery in the operating room
Quigley Eye Specialists can also perform eye surgery, using microsurgical instruments to implant or create drainage in the eye, relieving optic nerve damaging pressure. While more advanced, this type of surgery typically remains an outpatient procedure with quick recovery. iStents are implanted during the time of your cataract surgery.
Quigley Eye Specialists will work with you to create a treatment plan that works best for you and will be most effective. We will provide regular eye exams to ensure we are remaining on top of the disease.