Glaucoma is a disease in which the nerve that transfers information from the eye to the brain (optic nerve) becomes damaged. This damage results in irreversible vision loss. Since the vision loss occurs initially in the peripheral vision, the disease is unnoticed by patients until its later stages. Glaucoma is often, but not always, a result of high eye pressure. A family history of glaucoma increases one’s risk for the disease.
The first signs of glaucoma are often increased eye pressure and changes in the appearance of the optic nerve. Once glaucoma is suspected, additional testing will be done to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity.
The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. This means the drainage canal of the eye (the angle) is open and the fluid in the eye draining properly. Open-angle glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss slowly over a long period of time. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the angle is closed, causing the eye pressure to increase rapidly. This form of glaucoma is an emergency and can cause vision loss in a short period of time.
The diagnosis and management of glaucoma can be complex and requires both a trained eye care professional and the correct technology. The doctors at OEI offer years of glaucoma management experience as well as the humphrey visual field and Zeiss Cirrus OCT to provide the best care to our glaucoma patients.
If you are over the age of 40 and have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a yearly dilated eye exam by an eye care professional.
The treatment for all forms of glaucoma is centered on lowering the eye pressure. For open-angle glaucoma, this can be done with eye drops or simple procedures. OEI is proud to offer a non-invasive, in-office laser procedure that can reduce or sometimes eliminate the need for drops called the SLT. For patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, the SLT laser is a safe and effective way to lower the pressure of the eye.
Another option for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma is called the istent. The istent is the smallest approved FDA implantable device and is used in conjunction with cataract surgery.