Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve in the back of the eye.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye. Over time, this can cause irreversible vision loss. The optic nerve carries information from your retinal cells to your brain, where images are interpreted. Elevated pressure in the eye is the strongest risk factor for someone to develop glaucoma.
Glaucoma does not typically cause any symptoms, even while damage is being done. Glaucoma risk is higher in those with a family history, so if you have a relative who has known glaucoma, unexplained poor vision, or uses eye drops for high eye pressure, be sure to have an eye exam to rule out glaucoma. Glaucoma is also more prevalent in African and Hispanic Americans. African-Americans are usually affected earlier in life and can present with a more aggressive disease compared to Caucasians. Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss due to glaucoma.
The most common type of glaucoma, open angle glaucoma (OAG), occurs when there is poor outflow of fluid inside the eye. This leads to an increase in the intraocular pressure, which can lead to progressive loss of optic nerve cells and eventually vision loss.
There is no cure for glaucoma – yet. However, medication and/or surgery (both incisional and glaucoma laser surgery OKC) can slow or prevent vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma and many other different factors, best determined by your physician.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two major types of Glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
- Vision is suddenly blurry
- Severe eye pain
- Halos around lights
Angle-closure glaucoma may occur suddenly (acute angle-closure glaucoma) or gradually (chronic angle-closure glaucoma). Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency.
Are You at Risk?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. It is six to eight times more common in African-Americans than in Caucasians.
Family history increases the risk of glaucoma four to nine times.
Eye injury, chronic steroid use, poorly-controlled diabetes, and previous surgery are other risk factors that may increase the risk for glaucoma.
How Will My Physician Treat My Glaucoma?
Several topical eye medications can be used, in addition to laser or incisional procedures as deemed necessary by your doctor.
Regularly scheduled eye exams are required to assess response to treatment and disease stability.
Glaucoma laser surgery OKC procedures may be used as first-line treatment, in combination with drops, when drops alone have failed to control your pressure. These procedures are usually done in the BVA office.
Glaucoma surgical treatment has shifted tremendously in the last ten years from more invasive procedures such as trabeculectomy and tube shunts to more micro-invasive devices. Many glaucoma specialists have adopted this “interventional” approach for earlier surgical intervention, especially with the proven success of these safer MIGS (micro-invasive glaucoma surgery) procedures. The belief is that if we can augment patients’ own physiological tissues by “stenting” to enhance their outflow, then we can prevent or delay the need for more invasive surgeries that oftentimes “bypass” patients’ natural outflow systems. Many of these procedures are performed at the time of cataract surgery. These procedures are usually performed in a hospital or surgery center.