Glaucoma is one of the scarier medical conditions you can develop. It can cause complete vision loss before you even know you have it. Your eye doctor’s early diagnosis and treatment is the only way to prevent this. The eye doctors at Juliette Eye Institute have the expertise to diagnose and treat glaucoma. This treatment could save your eyesight, but you need to see your eye doctor regularly to get it.
Our eyes continually produce fluid that cycles through them. This fluid nourishes and hydrates your eyes to keep them healthy. Too little or too much eye fluid can be annoying and even cause health issues. In healthy eyes, fluid drains out of your eye through an area called the drainage network. When production and drainage of fluid are steady, eye pressure is normal, and your eye is healthy. But too much fluid buildup can be dangerous.
Elevated eye pressure, also called intraocular pressure or IOP can lead to problems. Glaucoma causes your IOP to reach unhealthy levels.
A healthy eye has fluid coming in and going out in equal proportions. If fluid moves too slowly or doesn’t drain properly, pressure builds, raising IOP. If your IOP gets too high, it can harm your optic nerve, which carries visual information to your brain. The optic nerve contains over a million nerve fibers.
Too much pressure can destroy these nerve fibers. When they die, you may see blind spots at the edge of your vision. However, the brain often compensates by filling in these damaged areas. In the first stages of glaucoma, you may not notice any changes. But the harm is already done. Damage to these nerve fibers is irreversible and impacts your eyesight. Glaucoma often develops slowly, but the damage it causes is permanent. If you don’t get tested for glaucoma until you have symptoms, it is likely too late to save all your vision.
The only way to prevent this vision loss is with frequent eye exams. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage glaucoma and keep your IOP low.
Many factors can affect the health of your eyes. If any of the following apply to you, consult your eye doctor. High blood pressure is a common contributor to increased IOP. Keeping your blood pressure under control can reduce your risk of glaucoma.
Often glaucoma gets passed down in families. Family history significantly increases your risk of developing it. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, like eye drops, is another risk factor. And having thin corneas makes you more likely to develop glaucoma, as well.
The following characteristics and conditions also increase your risk for glaucoma:
In its early stages, glaucoma has no symptoms. For that reason, it has the nickname the silent thief of sight. Many people with glaucoma are unaware that it is developing in their eyes. As it worsens, it can cause loss of peripheral vision, making it difficult to see objects on either side of you. This loss can result in tunnel vision, causing dimness or darkness at the edges of your eyesight.
It is impossible to restore or reverse vision loss due to glaucoma. But early diagnosis and treatment can slow or stop its progression. Routine eye exams are the only way to know you have glaucoma. With proper diagnosis, treatment can begin immediately to protect your eyesight.
What can you expect in an eye exam looking for glaucoma? To begin, your eye doctor will use special eye drops to dilate your pupils.
Your eye doctor needs your pupils to stay open so they can:
They use a variety of tests to gather this information, and a complete eye exam can take a few hours. But, it is vital to protect your eyes from glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of glaucoma. It can affect various components in your eye’s drainage network.
With POAG, your drainage angle remains open but gets partially blocked, slowing fluid drainage. IOP increases and can damage the optic nerve due to this slow draining. But it’s so slow-moving, you may lose vision before you know you have glaucoma.
Elevated IOP can cause optic nerve damage before it causes noticeable symptoms.
The other most common type of glaucoma is angle-closure glaucoma. With angle-closure glaucoma, your iris bulges and slows circulation. If you have narrow drainage angles, you’re at risk of angle-closure. Angle-closure glaucoma tends to occur suddenly and is a medical emergency.
OP doesn’t cause normal-tension glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can damage your optic nerve while your IOP remains normal. Pigmentary glaucoma can result from strenuous exercise. It develops as pigment granules flake off your iris into your eye fluid. These granules collect in the drainage channels and block fluid flow as it drains. When the drainage network gets blocked, fluid builds, increasing IOP.
Glaucoma treatments aim to slow the progress of the disease. Slowing its development, or halting it altogether, can save your eyesight. Pills or eye drops can do this during glaucoma’s early stages. They can be effective at reducing IOP and keeping it low. Laser treatments are also an option to improve outward flow and drain eye fluid. Surgery is another option and can be very effective.
Same-day surgery is a typical glaucoma treatment. You can get it then go home to recover on the same day.
Durysta is the first glaucoma implant that’s FDA-approved to dissolve over the course of several months. While the implant is in the eye, it consistently delivers medicine in the eye to lower high intraocular pressure.
Durysta is only for use in patients who have open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Many patients who have had Durysta implanted in their eye found that their eye pressure continued to stay low even after the implant dissolved.
MIGS procedures or minimally-invasive glaucoma surgery are a more straightforward glaucoma treatment. A tiny device gets inserted into your drainage network during a MIGS procedure.
This microscopic device creates a new drainage pathway out of your eye. There are a variety of MIGS procedures that all reduce IOP and your use of eye drops and other medication.
The iStent is a minimally invasive glaucoma surgery that treats and helps with the management of open-angle glaucoma. It is the first minimally invasive implantable device to treat open-angle glaucoma that’s FDA-approved.
It’s also approved to be performed at the same time as cataract surgery if you have cataracts. iStent works by placing a tiny 1-millimeter long titanium device through the eye’s trabecular meshwork and then into Schlemm’s canal. Doing this helps improve aqueous outflow from the eye’s anterior chamber, lowering intraocular pressure levels. Vision loss due to glaucoma is preventable. But the only way to slow or halt its progression is with a diagnosis and treatment by your eye doctor.
Is it time for you to have an eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Juliette Eye Institute in Albuquerque, NM.