Glaucoma is a disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve within your eye that relays the image you are seeing to your brain. Damage to the optic nerve results in loss of side vision, which often goes unnoticed by the patient until late in the disease. Due to its silent blinding nature, it is important to diagnose glaucoma in the early stages to prevent vision loss.
Risk factors for glaucoma include:
- Family history of the disease
- Age over 60
- African American descent
- Hispanic descent
- Asian descent
- History of eye injury at any point during your life
During our comprehensive eye exam, we diligently evaluate your chance of developing glaucoma. We assess your eye pressure, visual field and appearance of your optic nerve. We are able to detect glaucoma at a much earlier stage using Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) which can assess the optic nerve and retinal tissue at a microscopic level and detect change over time.
Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Our Topcon 3D OCT1-Maestro allows us to look at the optic nerve and retinal tissue at a microscopic level giving us a much more detailed look at these tissues past what can be seen with the naked eye. This advanced technology allows for early detection of conditions such as glaucoma . The OCT can provide numerical values to tissue thickness which allows for detailed monitoring of ocular disease conditions from year to year.
Types of Glaucoma
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG)
POAG is the most common type of glaucoma. This occurs when the pressure within the eye exceeds the normal range, which results in damage to the optic nerve.
Normal or Low Tension Glaucoma
This is a type of POAG in which the eye pressure falls between the normal range of 10-21 mmHg. This condition is more common in people of Japanese descent, as well as individuals with low blood pressure or sleep apnea.
Angle Closure Glaucoma
Angle Closure Glaucoma is caused by the inability of fluid to drain out of the eye and can be either acute or chronic in nature. If acute, there will be a sudden spike in eye pressure that will cause blurred vision, haloes, nausea and headaches. This is an eye emergency and it is very important to receive prompt treatment or permanent vision loss may result. Angle closure happens most commonly in older Caucasian patients with farsighted prescriptions.
This is a group of glaucoma's that can be caused by certain systemic conditions, injuries or after surgery. Trauma to the eye results in a lifetime risk for the development of glaucoma. Additionally, conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can result in the formation of new blood vessels which can impair the drainage system of the eye resulting in glaucoma.
Congenital Glaucoma arises in children between birth and 3 months of age. It is most commonly caused by a birth defect that results in decreased drainage of fluid from the eye. These children often have excessive tearing, clouding of their eyes, and larger or protruding eyes. Prompt treatment is required to preserve vision.
Treatment of Glaucoma
The first line of treatment for most forms of glaucoma is eye drops to lower the eye pressure. In cases where eye drops are not able to adequately control eye pressure, or if optic nerve damage persists, surgical intervention may be recommended.