If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, we now have excellent therapies to treat this disease and slow down the loss of vision. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection, treatment, and close monitoring of the disease can help to prevent loss of your eyesight. Since patients often do not have any symptoms of glaucoma, regular eye exams are important to detect any changes in your vision.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an asymptomatic disease, which can cause a slow and progressive loss of vision if untreated. The most common form of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. Glaucoma affects the optic nerve of the eye, which is responsible for the delivery of visual signals from the eye to the visual processing centers of the brain. Glaucoma causes a slow loss of the nerve fibers, which comprise the optic nerve. As the optic nerve loses its fibers, a defect, or black spot, in the vision can develop. Diagnosing glaucoma requires an extensive eye examination. A visual field test identifies any suspicious appearances to the optic nerve or loss of an area of the visual field.
Am I at risk?
Although glaucoma may present at any age, it is more common over the age of 60 years. African American patients have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, and can develop glaucoma at a younger age. A family history of glaucoma is also an important risk factor. Additionally, the risk of developing glaucoma is increased with a higher intraocular pressure (pressure of the eye). The average range of intraocular pressure is between 10 and 21; however, glaucoma can develop in this normal range.
Can it be treated?
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, we have excellent therapies which can help slow the disease progression. Glaucoma can be treated with different eye medications and laser treatments, which are painless and are performed in the office. For some patients, drops and lasers are not enough to control the glaucoma and surgery may be performed. The glaucoma surgical procedures, either a trabeculectomy (Trab) or a tube shunt, are performed in the operating room. Each procedure creates a new outflow path to help lower the eye pressure. The goal of glaucoma therapy is to slow or stop the progression of optic nerve and visual field damage.
Early detection, treatment, and close monitoring of the disease can help to prevent many patients from developing symptomatic visual loss in their lifetime.
To discuss Glaucoma with a Cullom Eye & Laser Center physician, please call (757) 345-3001 to schedule an appointment.
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