It all starts with an eye exam!
Glaucoma is an optic nerve disease that can result in serious impairment or loss of vision. Early detection and treatment can help protect your eyes from serious vision loss.
The majority of glaucoma cases involve elevated eye pressure. However, 20 to 30 percent of people with glaucoma have normal eye pressures, so there are various types of glaucoma with different causes.
Anyone can develop glaucoma. Most people who have mild to moderate forms of the disease are asymptomatic. A significant change in your vision is one warning sign that you might have a more advanced stage of glaucoma.
A type of glaucoma called acute angle closure can cause a sudden onset of blurred vision with halos, headaches, and nausea and vomiting and is a medical emergency.
There are several risk factors associated with glaucoma. They include:
- A family history of glaucoma
- African American race
- Age over 60
- Increased eye pressure
- Previous eye injury
- Thin central corneal thickness
- Long term steroid use
Signs of potential glaucoma are often discovered during routine eye exams, when tests might reveal elevated eye pressure, optic nerve abnormalities or peripheral vision loss.
Patients may then be referred to our glaucoma specialist for further comprehensive testing. Testing might include:
- Measuring eye pressure (tonometry)
- Looking at the eye’s drainage angle to identify possible causes of glaucoma including angle closure (gonioscopy)
- Measuring corneal thickness (pachymetry)
- Checking peripheral vision (visual field testing)
- Taking pictures to measure the thickness of the optic nerve fibers (stereo disc photos, OCT or HRT imaging)
Treatment for glaucoma depends on a number of variables, including:
- Risk factors
- Stage of the disease
- Health status
Once all these variables are considered, treatment may consist of:
- Eye drops
Previously, glaucoma surgery was often performed only if eye drops or a laser procedure were not effective. However, some newer surgical procedures have been introduced that are safer and have reduced the risk of certain surgical complications. As a result, glaucoma surgery is now performed earlier in the treatment plan, particularly in glaucoma patients who may be undergoing cataract surgery.