Glaucoma: Its Diagnosis and Treatment
Glaucoma is defined as a group of eye disorders leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve by the American Optometric Association. It is characterized by the loss of nerve tissue that results in loss of vision. Advanced glaucoma may even cause blindness.
As the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, Glaucoma most often occurs in people over age 40, although a congenital or infantile form of glaucoma does exist. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans over the age of 40 and Hispanics over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. Other risk factors include thinner corneas, chronic eye inflammation, and using medications that increase the pressure in the eyes.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing includes:
- Patient history to determine family history and symptoms
- Visual acuity measurements to determine the extent which vision may be affected
- Tonometry to measure pressure inside the eye
- Pachymetry to measure corneal thickness
- Visual field testing to check if the field of vision has been affected by glaucoma
- Evaluation of the retina which may include photographs of the optic nerve
- Supplemental testing may include gonioscopy, a procedure allowing views of the angle anatomy and serial tonometry which acquires several pressure measurements over time
South Georgia Eye Partners performs these comprehensive eye exams in all three of their offices. If glaucoma is detected, treatment often includes either medications to reduce elevated intraocular pressure or surgery. Surgery for glaucoma can be performed three ways:
- Laser surgery – laser trabeculoplasty helps fluid drain out of the eye.
- Conventional surgery – if eye drops and laser surgery aren’t effective in controlling eye pressure, you may need a filtering procedure called a trabeculectomy. Filtering microsurgery involves creating a drainage flap, allowing fluid to percolate into and later drain into the vascular system.
- Drainage implants – this type of surgery may be an option for people with uncontrolled glaucoma, secondary glaucoma or for children with glaucoma. A small silicone tube is inserted in the eye to help drain aqueous fluid
There is no cure for glaucoma, but by keeping eye pressure under control, continued damage to the optic nerve and continued loss of your visual field may slow or stop. Early detection, prompt treatment and regular monitoring can help to control glaucoma and reduce vision loss. South Georgia Eye Partners diagnoses and treats all types of glaucoma through medications and surgeries if necessary. Call SGEP today to set up an appointment if you feel you are showing signs of glaucoma and would like to start taking control of your eye health.
*Source: American Optometric Association
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