Did you know glaucoma has the nickname the “silent thief of sight”? Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can lead to irreversible vision loss.
Yet, many individuals may not even know they have it due to its gradual progression. By being informed about the nature of glaucoma, you can help ensure your eyes stay as healthy as possible.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma affects the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that carries visual images to the brain. It contains a bundle of fibers, resulting in blind spots when damaged.
About three million Americans have glaucoma. It is the leading cause of blindness, and it is most common in older adults, typically developing after the age of 60. Family history and ethnicity are also factors in the likelihood of developing glaucoma.
What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Unfortunately, many are unaware they have glaucoma until their vision has been significantly affected. Glaucoma progresses slowly, with no obvious symptoms in its early stages.
When blind spots go undetected, damage to the optic nerve continues. As it progresses, individuals may experience a loss of their peripheral vision. If the damage continues long enough to destroy the nerve, it results in blindness.
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
The most crucial part of treating glaucoma is early detection. Since individuals rarely experience symptoms initially, the only way to detect and diagnose the condition is during an eye exam.
While it is not preventable, early detection is the primary way to avoid damage and maintain as much of your vision as possible.
When early intervention and treatment are possible, you can manage the condition to avoid permanent blindness. Be sure to schedule regular eye exams, especially as you get older.
You should do this even if you feel like nothing in your vision has changed. The only way to be sure is with a comprehensive exam.
During an exam, your eye doctor will check the health of your optic nerve and perform a few quick and painless tests to check your overall vision. They will also identify if you have any risk factors for glaucoma and recommend more frequent exams if you do.
Treatment for Glaucoma
At Shoreline Vision, we combine our wealth of experience with the latest technology to ensure the best possible outcome for glaucoma patients. Treatment typically begins with daily eye drops. These help lower the build-up of fluid pressure in the eye.
When eye drops alone are not effective, the next step may be to perform laser surgery. There are two main procedures to treat glaucoma: a trabeculoplasty and an iridotomy. Both of these procedures help control high eye pressure.
In some cases, another procedure like a trabeculectomy may be recommended to decrease pressure by creating an alternate passage for fluid to flow. If a trabeculectomy is not effective or it is not an option for you, your ophthalmologist may recommend a small drainage device be implanted.