Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in the United States. It is a disease which involves irreversible damage to the optic nerve usually caused by increased eye pressure. It often has no symptoms and slowly reduces peripheral vision and can eventually diminish the central vision. A simple, painless eye exam can detect the disease. With early detection and treatment, glaucoma can usually be controlled and blindness prevented.
Causes & Symptoms
There are two main types of glaucoma. The most common is open angle glaucoma. With this condition, the fluid in the eye is not draining properly through the trabecular meshwork. There are generally no symptoms in the early stages of this type of glaucoma.
The second type is closed angle glaucoma. This is a sudden build-up of pressure and poor drainage caused when the angles in between the cornea and the iris are too narrow. This can cause severe eye pain, redness of the eyes, blurred vision or halos around lights. Angle closure requires immediate medical attention to avoid permanent damage to the eye.
Glaucoma often has no symptoms; however, there are certain factors that increase the risk of glaucoma. These include:
- A family history of glaucoma
- Age of 45 or older without regular eye exams
- Abnormally high eye pressure
- African descent
- Previous eye injury
- Regular/long term use of Prednisone or other corticosteroid products
Patients with glaucoma should be seen regularly by an ophthalmologist to monitor their condition. Glaucoma can often be treated with medical therapy. There are several classes of eye drops that lower intraocular pressure. In cases where medical therapy is not sufficient, Concord Eye Center offers the following procedures for the treatment of glaucoma:
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT): a laser procedure that lowers intraocular pressure (IOP) by increasing drainage. This is a minimally invasive procedure with little to no side effects, scarring or pain.
- Yag Laser Iridotomy: a treatment for narrow or closed angle glaucoma which uses a laser to make a small hole in the iris to increase the angle between the cornea and iris and encourage fluid drainage.
- Diode Laser Cyclophotocoagulation: a treatment for more severe cases, this uses a laser to destroy the ciliary body which is responsible for producing the fluid in the eye.
- Trabeculectomy Surgery: this uses a laser to cut a hole in the sclera, creating a new passage and a collection pouch for fluid.