The Detection and Treatment of Glaucoma
One of the most frequent questions we hear from adult patients at Associates in Eyecare is, “What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?” Most of our patients don’t have any with this condition before we detect it as a result of their regularly scheduled eye exam. That’s why glaucoma has often been called the "sneak thief of vision." One reason you should have a thorough eye exam every year is so we can detect glaucoma before it robs you of a precious possession - your vision.
Causes of Glaucoma
The front line of eye disease prevention is understanding what causes a condition like glaucoma. It is caused by excessive fluid pressure inside the eye and occurs when eye fluid doesn’t circulate properly. When functioning as it should, the fluid (aqueous humor) flows through a mesh-like channel out of your eye. With glaucoma, liquid builds up due to the channel of the eye being blocked.
While is it not known what causes such blockage, we do now that children can inherit it from their parents. This is why your doctor will always ask about family history during your eye exam. Most often the condition affects both eyes, though it may be worse in one eye than the other.
Known but less common causes include a chemical or blunt injury to the eye, blood vessels in the eye that are blocked, severe eye infection, medications and inflammatory conditions. On rare occasions, eye surgery to correct another condition may cause glaucoma.
People typically affected by Glaucoma
This condition mostly affects adults over 40, but young adults and even infants and children can have it. While not a complete list, higher potential of having glaucoma occurs in those who:
- Are of African-American, Russian, Scandinavian, Japanese, Irish, or Hispanic descent
- Are over 40
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have diabetes
- Have poor vision
- Taking certain medication such as steroids
Symptom of Glaucoma
Since most people don’t show or notice early symptoms, having a regular eye exam is essential in eye disease diagnosis and treatment. On occasion, when the pressure on the inside of a person’s eye rises to severe levels, they can experience headaches, sudden eye pain, or the appearance of halos around lights.
Other symptoms sometimes can include:
- Redness in the eye
- Eye pain
- Tunnel vision
- In infants, an eye that appears hazy
How we diagnose, treat and manage Glaucoma
Our optometrists examine the structure of your eyes, use a test called tonometry to check your eye pressure and conduct a visual field test to screen for the possibility of glaucoma. Should any indications of glaucoma be detected, your doctor will order a complete Glaucoma work up to determine if in fact Glaucoma is present, the extent of the disease and may prescribe eye drops or surgery.
Lost vision can’t be restored but most people who follow their treatment plan can significantly slow down, or halt, the damage occurring.