What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve. Optic nerve damage is caused by increased pressure from fluid that builds up inside the eye. The amount of pressure that can cause damage varies from person to person. Glaucoma affects peripheral (or side) vision, narrowing the field of vision. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause total vision loss.
Glaucoma often has no early symptoms, and can affect one or both eyes. Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. People often are unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in its early stages. People at higher risk need a comprehensive dilated eye examination every 1–2 years. Early detection, treatment, and follow-up care are key to preventing vision loss and blindness.
If detected early, before noticeable vision loss occurs, glaucoma can usually be controlled. Vision lost from glaucoma cannot be restored.
Anyone can get glaucoma, but those at higher risk include:
- African Americans age 40 and over
- Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos
- People with a family history of the disease
Early detection through a comprehensive dilated eye exam and treatment with medication or surgery can help reduce severe vision loss from glaucoma.
At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes.
Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead (central) vision may decrease until no vision remains.
How is glaucoma detected?
Glaucoma is detected through a Comprehensive Eye Exam that includes the following tests. All of the testing is done in our office.
Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Visual field test. This test measures your peripheral (side vision). It helps your eye care professional tell if you have lost peripheral vision, a sign of glaucoma.
Dilated eye exam. In this exam, drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
Tonometry is the measurement of pressure inside the eye by using an instrument called a tonometer. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test. A tonometer measures pressure inside the eye to detect glaucoma.
Pachymetry is the measurement of the thickness of your cornea. Your eye care professional applies a numbing drop to your eye and uses an ultrasonic wave instrument to measure the thickness of your cornea.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging test. OCT uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of your optic nerve and retina.
With OCT, we can see each of the retina’s distinctive layers. This allows your us to map and measure their thickness. These measurements help with diagnosis. They also provide treatment guidance for glaucoma and other diseases of the retina.
Can glaucoma be cured?
No. There is no cure for glaucoma. Vision lost from the disease cannot be restored.
Immediate treatment for early-stage glaucoma can delay progression of the disease. That’s why early diagnosis is very important.
Glaucoma treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.
Medicines. Medicines, in the form of eyedrops or pills, are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Taken regularly, these eyedrops lower eye pressure. Some medicines cause the eye to make less fluid. Others lower pressure by helping fluid drain from the eye.
Before you begin glaucoma treatment, tell your eye care professional about other medicines and supplements that you are taking. Sometimes the drops can interfere with the way other medicines work.
Because glaucoma often has no symptoms, people may be tempted to stop taking, or may forget to take, their medicine. You need to use the drops or pills as long as they help control your eye pressure. Regular use is very important.
Wexford Office Hours
Monday: 10:00am - 7:30pm
Tuesday: 10:00am - 7:30pm
Wednesday: 10:00am - 7:30pm
Thursday: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am - 2:00pm
Vision Therapy Hours
Monday: 10:30am - 7:00pm
Tuesday: 9:30am - 7:00pm
Wednesday: 8:00am - 7:00pm
Thursday: 8:00am - 7:00pm
Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm