DiagnosisInformation about the conditions we treat at Laurel Eye Physicians.
GlaucomaGlaucoma is an extremely common cause of irreversible blindness that can affect even the healthiest person. It is a disease of the optic nerve. It is particularly worrisome because there are no symptoms and no cure. It slowly and silently steals away your vision. Peripheral vision is typically lost first, but total blindness can occur in end-stage glaucoma. Once damage has occurred, it cannot be undone. However, there is treatment, and early detection is essential to prevent permanent loss of vision.
Glaucoma is an umbrella term, and there are various different types of glaucoma, such as open angle glaucoma (OAG), normal tension glaucoma (NTG), angle closure glaucoma (ACG), angle recession glaucoma (ARG), inflammatory glaucoma, and neovascular glaucoma. The most common type that we see in the United States is OAG.
Risk factors for glaucoma include:
- Family history
- Ethnicity - glaucoma is more common in African Americans, black Africans, and Latinos
- A history of trauma to the eye, particularly blunt force trauma
- High myopia (near-sightedness)
- Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP)
- Thin central corneas (this and IOP are quick, painless measurements that are done in our office)
There is one treatment for glaucoma: reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP). There are 3 ways that this can be accomplished: daily prescription eye drops, laser trabeculoplasty (a painless, in-office light-based therapy), and intraocular surgery (typically reserved for severe cases in which a safe IOP cannot be achieved with eye drops and/or laser). Treatment does not improve vision, but is essential to preserve vision and prevent blindness.
Although the only known treatment is to reduce IOP, glaucoma does NOT simply mean "high eye pressure." This is a common misconception. In fact, many people with glaucoma have never had elevated IOP, so-called "normal tension glaucoma." Glaucoma slowly and silently damages the optic nerve and steals away your vision.
Glaucoma is diagnosed by a careful evaluation of the appearance and function of the optic nerve. Having a "puff test" and being told that your eye pressure is normal does not mean that you do not have glaucoma or that you are not at risk for it. Having regular eye exams can literally save your sight.
If you have a family history of glaucoma, if you have ever been diagnosed as a glaucoma suspect, or if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma but have seen an ophthalmologist for over one year, please call our office for an appointment.