in Farmington Hills
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States and can affect patients of all ages, many of who do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease. Glaucoma actually refers to a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve as a result of increased pressure within the eye, but can also be caused by a severe eye infection, injury, blocked blood vessels, or inflammatory conditions of the eye.
Open-Angle vs Angle-Closure Glaucoma
There are two main types of glaucoma, open-angle, and angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma and involves fluid in the eye not draining properly through the trabecular meshwork. Angle-closure glaucoma involves a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye and poor drainage because the angle between the iris and the cornea is too narrow.
Many patients do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of glaucoma, including no pain and no vision loss. This makes it difficult for many patients to know if they have the disease. But as glaucoma progresses, patients may experience a loss of peripheral or side vision, along with sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or the appearance of halos around lights.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
While some patients may experience symptoms from glaucoma as the disease progresses, others do not learn they have the condition until they undergo a routine eye exam. There are several different exams performed to diagnose glaucoma, including a visual field and visual acuity test. These tests measure peripheral vision and how well patients can see at various distances. Other tests may also be performed, such as tonometry to measure the pressure inside the eye and pachymetry to measure the thickness of the cornea.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Once glaucoma has been diagnosed, treatment should begin as soon as possible to help minimize the risk of permanent vision loss. There is no cure for glaucoma, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing further damage from occurring. Most cases of glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, laser, or microsurgery. The best treatment for your individual case depends on the type and severity of the disease and can be discussed with your doctor.
- Eye drops are used to reduce fluid production in the front of the eye or to help drain the excess fluid but can lead to redness, stinging irritation, or blurry vision. Patients should tell their doctor about any allergies they have to minimize the risk of side effects.
- Laser surgery for glaucoma aims to increase the outflow of fluid from the eye or eliminate fluid blockages through laser trabeculoplasty, iridotomy, or cyclophotocoagulation.
- Microsurgery involves a surgical procedure called a trabeculectomy, which creates a new channel to drain fluid from the eye and reduce the pressure that causes glaucoma. Surgery is often performed after medication and laser procedures have failed.
How Can You Prevent Glaucoma?
While there are no surefire ways to prevent glaucoma from developing, regular screenings and early detection are the best forms of protection against the harmful damage that the disease can cause. While anyone can develop glaucoma, some people are at a higher risk for developing the disease. These people may include those who:
- Are over the age of 60
- Are African Americans over the age of 40
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have poor vision
- Have diabetes
“My current doctor has retired, Associates in Ophthalmology was recommended to me by another specialist. My visit this morning was a great experience, with very friendly staff, experienced technicians, and Dr. Brian Sygiel was very thorough and informative. It was a great experience, I would recommend Associates in Ophthalmology to everyone.”
Patients should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years, especially if they have a higher risk of developing glaucoma. Older patients may be encouraged to be tested more frequently.
Schedule An Ophthalmologist Consultation
To learn more about glaucoma and how you can be tested for this serious condition, please call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.