Glaucoma is one of leading causes of blindness for people of 60. Glaucoma is characterized by increased internal eye pressure. If left untreated, this progressive & irreversible eye disease can lead to vision loss and eventually blindness.
The human eye requires fluid to maintain its moisture, chemical balance, & shape. This fluid, called “aqueous humor,” creates a natural pressure inside the eye. Throughout the day, the intraocular pressure inside the eye will naturally fluctuate. When the internal eye pressure can’t go down, the shape of the eye distorts, which distorts the light focusing in the retina.
This is usually caused by clogged canals in the eye that prevent this fluid from draining. As the lens proteins denature & degrade over time, specific environmental factors & physiological disorders can accelerate the deterioration of these healing mechanisms. These degraded proteins are what cause the clouded vision.
There are 2 main types of glaucoma, classified by the effect it has on the cornea:
- Open-angle: wide, open angle between iris & cornea
- Angle-closure: narrow, closed angle
Given the slow speed at which glaucoma develops, patients may not notice its onset. Sometimes the glare from bright lights or dulled colors of everyday life will be a clue that something might be wrong. Other times, it’ll be too late as the glaucoma advances too rapidly.
Glaucoma can result from other conditions or disorders:
- Old age
- Steroid use (usually as an immunosuppressant medication)
- Radiation treatment (usually for cancer)
These cloudy spots in the lens, also called “opacities,” will continue to clump together to further impair your vision. In the same way that rubbing grease on a window reduces the clearness and clarity of seeing what’s on the other side, Glaucoma reduces the lens’ ability to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye.
Our licensed eye doctors <<comprehensive yearly eye exam>> use a variety of methods to better evaluate your pupils, cornea, iris, lens, & retina for Glaucoma:
- Visual acuity test
- Dark room proactive test
- Retinal exam with pupil dilation
What Our Glaucoma Eye Exam is Looking For
There are numerous indicators we cover during our Glaucoma exam.
- Overall lens opacity
- Any wedge-like opacities
- Swelling of the cortex
- Any white occlusions
- Density of the central zone of the lens
- Brightness of reflected light from the back of the eye
Despite some awkward adjustment period, pupil dilation is not an uncomfortable process. Administered with drops, it takes 15 to 30 minutes to open up the pupils for comprehensive examination. Side effects include light sensitivity & blurred vision, lasting approximately three to four hours.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Glaucoma can be treated in a variety of ways. Eye drop medication is the least invasive treatment option for patients. However, since glaucoma isn’t necessarily painful or highly noticeable, patients can be inconsistent applying the eye drops. This lack of compliance affects the long-term mitigation of glaucoma.
Laser therapy is a minimally invasive treatment option. This cyclophotocoagulation procedure will target the ciliary processes, located behind the iris, to reduce the production of aqueous humor. This laser therapy decreases fluid inflow as a result.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgeries
The many surgical options can be either microscopically or minimally invasive but is definitely a more involved process.
- Trabeculectomy is a procedure to make a small hole in the wall of the eye to create a “trapdoor” for fluid to drain. The success of trabeculectomies depends on how much the trapdoor, called “the bleb,” stays open.
- Silicone drainage tubes can be implanted in the eye to during an operation that occurs under general anesthesia
Why Is a Glaucoma Exam So Important?
Vision loss from glaucoma can’t be recovered. Most patients with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain. Early diagnosis & prevention can prevent potential loss of vision. The early signs can be easily diagnosed by our licensed optometrists. You want to help your body out as much as you can. By detecting eye & vision problems early, we can provide management options and—in many cases—prevent total vision loss. Issues like these are why it’s so important to schedule <<regular annual eye exams>>. If your vision is getting worse before you’re scheduled to see your eye doctor, make an earlier appointment so you consult with your eye doctor as soon as possible.