What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma usually develops gradually, causes no pain, and often goes undiagnosed. Yet it may rob you of your vision. Glaucoma steals vision from thousands of Americans every year, making it the leading cause of treatable and preventable blindness in the United States today.
You may not realize you have glaucoma; however, there are some warning signs. Indicators of the disease include blurred vision, loss of peripheral or side vision, and the inability to adjust your eyes to a darkened room. Usually, however, there are not symptoms with early glaucoma. Regular eye examinations are the most effective way to diagnose glaucoma. The physicians at Eye Care Associates recommend a yearly eye examination for adults 40 and older or anyone with a family history of glaucoma.
The front part of your eye is filled with a water-like fluid called aqueous humor that maintains the eyeball’s rounded shape. Eye pressure builds up when the fluid cannot circulate and drain properly, resulting in damage to the optic nerve.
The optic nerve consists of more than one million nerves or “wires” and each carries a visual image message to the brain. These messages combine to provide central and peripheral vision. When the nerves are damaged by glaucoma, blind spots occur in the various areas of vision. These blind spots may not be noticed until significant damage has occurred to the optic nerve. If the entire nerve is destroyed by glaucoma, the result is irreparable blindness.
At Eye Care Associates, a thorough eye examination will determine the overall health of your eye, the eye pressure, and any decrease in visual function. Specialized glaucoma tests, including fundus photos – pictures of the optic nerve that document the health of the eye’s interior, and automated visual fields – a computerized vision test that reveals isolated areas of decreased vision, are extremely valuable.
Additional technology utilized at Eye Care Associates includes:
After reviewing the test results, the doctor will explain your diagnosis to give you a complete understanding of your particular situation and your treatment options.
Eye drops, pills or ointments are used to control eye pressure. A procedure called SLT surgery can be added to treat glaucoma. In more advanced complicated cases, your doctor may need to surgically create a new pathway for fluid drainage. This surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis.
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to preserve present vision and prevent further damage. It is important to remember that there is usually no cure for glaucoma. Damage from the disease cannot be reversed, which is why it is imperative to diagnose and treat the disease in its early stages. With regular checkups and proper treatment, there is a good chance you can live with glaucoma without significant loss of vision.