The American Optometric Association defines glaucoma as a group of eye disorders leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve. It is characterized by the loss of nerve tissue that results in declining vision. Advanced glaucoma may even cause blindness.
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, ocular trauma and using medications that increase pressure in the eyes.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
At South Georgia/North Florida Eye Partners, glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. We use an advanced early detection method called optomap at all five of our Eye Partners locations. Simply put, optomap ultra-widefield retinal imaging is a unique technology that captures more than 80% of your retina in one panoramic photo which can help with early detection of everything from vision impairment to life-threatening diseases.
The unique optomap view helps your eye care practitioner detect early signs of eye diseases more effectively and efficiently than with traditional eye exams. Early detection means successful treatments can be administered reducing the risk to your sight and health.
One of Eye Partners’ own patients, Mary Margaret Richardson, had her glaucoma diagnosed through optomap testing. She consequently received treatment for her glaucoma from Dr. Scott Petermann in the form of medicinal therapy.
“I’m quite satisfied,” says Mary Margaret. “I think Eye Partners does a great job. I haven’t had any problems.”
If glaucoma is detected, treatment often includes either medications to reduce elevated intraocular pressure (as in Mary’s case) 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
- MIGS – Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery. This procedure is the new frontier of glaucoma surgeries, and some (but not all) can be done while the patient is undergoing cataract surgery. This surgery utilizes one of several state-of-the-art tools including: Kahook Dual Blade (KDB), CyPass® Micro-Stent, or the iStent®
- Canaloplasty – This procedure utilizes a microcatheter or tube placed in the Canal of Schlemm (the natural site of drainage for healthy eyes) to enlarge the drainage canal, relieving pressure inside the eye. Studies have been published demonstrating long-term efficacy and safety.
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.
Treatment for glaucoma is highly successful, but as with all procedures, you need to heed the doctor’s advice.
“The most important thing for one to remember,” reflects Mary Margaret, “is to follow [the doctors’] instructions.”
Eye Partners diagnoses and treats all types of glaucoma through medications and surgeries if necessary. Call Eye Partners 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.