What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when there is an increase in the fluid pressure within the eye. If left untreated, over time this pressure causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve that can result in permanent vision loss. In fact, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
In people with glaucoma, the fluid within the eye does not drain properly. This causes the pressure inside the eye to rise and can cause irreversible damage the optic nerve which is responsible for sending information to your brain that allows you to see. This pressure on the optic nerve causes irreversible damage to critical nerve tissue.
There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common is chronic open-angle glaucoma. In this condition, the pressure builds up slowly over time, so you may not be aware of the problem until your optic nerve is already damaged. At first, vision remains normal. As the pressure continues to damage the optic nerve, patients may notice a loss or blurring of their side vision. If left untreated, the field of vision continues to narrow more and more, leading to eventual blindness.
Know If You Are At Risk
Glaucoma affects as many as 4 million Americans, or 2% of all adults over the age of 40. Unfortunately, many people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it. That is because there are no symptoms in the early stages of the condition. However, glaucoma can be easily diagnosed by your eye care physician and treated to prevent optic nerve damage. That is why we recommend regular eye examinations for all people over the age of 40.
While anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at an increased risk of developing this disease. These include:
- Age, the older you get the greater the risk
- People with high blood pressure
- People with a family history of glaucoma
- Those who have suffered an eye injury
- African Americans, who are five times more likely to develop glaucoma
Center For Sight is the leader in bringing our patients the latest advances for the treatment of glaucoma. While there is no cure for the disorder, effective treatments are available that can control the pressure within the eye and prevent vision loss.
- Medications – A variety of different eye drops and oral medications are used to control glaucoma. However, some of these drugs may stop working over time, or they may cause unpleasant side effects. When a problem occurs, your physician may try a different medication or discuss other treatment options.
- Laser therapy Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) – Used to treat open angle glaucoma. The SLT uses short pulses of energy to target the trabecular meshwork to reduce intraocular pressure that can damage the optic nerve. SLT does not cause any scarring of the trabecular network and therefore, is a repeatable procedure.
- Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) – A stent (iStent) can be placed at the time of cataract surgery for those with mild to moderate glaucoma. This stent allows fluid to bypass the normal drainage system of the eye — thus lowering the pressure. There are no additional risks with the stent. More of these MIGS procedures will be available in the future and Center For Sight continues to be involved in these clinical studies.
- Trabeculectomy – A drain is created with the patient’s own tissue to bypass the natural system. This procedure is usually reserved for patients with more advanced glaucoma disease. It is performed on an outpatient basis in Center For Sight’s fully accredited Surgery Center.
- Tube Implants – Silicone tubes are implanted around the eye to drain the fluid which helps keep the pressure down.