What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disorder that is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, with two out of every 100 people over age 35 at risk of developing the condition.
Glaucoma is a disease that progressively damages the optic nerve of either one or both eyes, leading to permanent vision loss and eventual blindness. There are three main types of glaucoma, namely:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common type of the disease and occurs when the drainage canals in the eye become clogged. This is very slow developing glaucoma.
- Angle-closure glaucoma: Also known as acute glaucoma. This is a more rare and fast-acting disease that causes rapid vision loss.
- Normal-tension glaucoma: This is also known as low-tension glaucoma as damage to the optic nerve will occur even though the pressure in the eye is not that high. It is often linked to genetics and systemic heart disease.
What Are The Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Depending on the type of glaucoma, there will be different symptoms.
For angle-closure glaucoma, be aware of:
- Sudden loss of vision
- Blurred vision
- Severe eye pain/head pain
- Nausea or vomiting
For the other types of glaucoma, a common symptom is the slow loss of peripheral vision. This often goes unnoticed because there are really no other symptoms and the progression is very subtle.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Anyone can get glaucoma but some people are more at risk than others. This includes:
- Anyone with a genetic history of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is hereditary, so people with a family history of the disease need to stay especially aware of the symptoms aware. This is very important for anyone of African decent, as it is more than six times more likely to occur in an African-American person than a Caucasian person.
- Severe myopia/nearsightedness
- Anyone over 60. People over the age of 60 are six times more likely to develop glaucoma.
- Physical eye trauma. Any injury that physically damages the eye can cause the drainage canal to block up, leading to traumatic glaucoma.
Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
Primary open-angle glaucoma cannot be prevented. Fortunately, the optic nerve damage and loss of vision that results from glaucoma can be prevented through eye drops and medication if it is caught early enough, as there are some very effective treatment options.
How Will Having Glaucoma Impact My Life?
After being diagnosed with glaucoma, some patients feel anxious about their future quality of life. At Eye Centers of Florida, we will help you to learn how to manage this condition effectively to ensure that you feel positive about your future and, very importantly, get the best possible treatment to reduce any future loss of vision.
How is Glaucoma Treated?
Although there is no cure for glaucoma and no way to reverse the loss of vision that has already occurred, there are very effective treatment options available for closed-angle glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma and low tension glaucoma that will prevent further vision loss. These options include:
- Medication/Eye drops: A common treatment for primary open-angle glaucoma, this option utilizes one or more types of medicated eye drops that have to be taken several times a day. These will either increase drainage from your eye or stop the production of the fluid in your eye to reduce pressure.
- Surgery: There are several different laser therapy options for treating glaucoma that vary for each type of the disease:
- Laser trabeculoplasty will help fluid drain from your eye more effectively, but the results will only last a few years.
- Laser cyclo-ablation, generally only used after other methods have failed, destroys the cells that produce the fluid by freezing them, reducing pressure in the eye.
- A trabeculectomywill create a new pathway for your eye to drain through a small collecting bag near the upper lid into the capillary blood system.
- Aqueous shunts are artificial drainage devices that are surgically placed in the eyethat allow fluid to drain into a reservoir and are an alternative to a trabeculectomy.
When is The Right Time for Glaucoma Treatment?
The key to effective glaucoma treatment is to diagnose and start treatment as early as possible, as any vision lost will be permanent. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of glaucoma then you should speak to an eye doctor as soon as possible.
What Can I Expect From Glaucoma Treatment?
With glaucoma treatment, you can expect your vision to remain stable, although it will not improve. The most common forms of treatment include a regime of medicated eye drops that will only be effective if used as prescribed, so patients have to dedicate themselves to a strict daily routine. Whatever the treatment plan decided upon by you and your doctor, maintaining good eye health and having regular check-ups will help you ensure that your vision doesn’t deteriorate further.
When Will I be Able to Return to Normal Activity After My Treatment?
Surgery for glaucoma, although largely painless, requires some recovery time depending on the procedure to allow your eyes to heal. Patients are advised to rest their eyes and keep their eyes away from water for a day to a week and you will also not be able to drive on the day of your surgery. Most daily activities should be fine unless they are very stressful on your eyes, for example, reading.
Every case is different, however, and your doctor will be able to give you more specific information about what you can expect.
What’s Next? Get A Glaucoma Evaluation
An eye exam is essential for anyone who feels like they may be suffering from glaucoma, as treatment needs to start as soon as possible to prevent further loss of vision. Once you have your diagnosis, you can move forward with a customized treatment plan that will help you to effectively preserve your vision and keep your eyes healthy.
Why Choose Eye Centers Of Florida For Your Evaluation?
At Eye Centers of Florida, we prioritize exceptional patient care, helping all our patients to gain access to the qualified eye specialists and advice they need to diagnose, manage and treat glaucoma.
If you would like your vision to be evaluated for glaucoma, request an appointment today.