What is Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition of the eye that causes damage to the optic nerve, which can lead to progressive and permanent vision loss. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60 years of age. It is common with glaucoma to have an elevated eye pressure, although many people with glaucoma have normal eye pressures. With early detection and treatment vision loss from glaucoma can almost always be prevented. Envision Specialty EyeCare and Dry Eye Center utilizes the most advanced technology and evaluation techniques to detect early signs of glaucoma.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma; open angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle closure glaucoma.

  • Open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, which currently affects about 3 million Americans. Early stages of the disease are often asymptomatic with no early warning signs. Left untreated open angle glaucoma can lead to gradual irreversible loss of vision. With early detection and proper treatment, open angle glaucoma can almost always be controlled and vision preserved.

  • Angle closure glaucoma is more rare than primary open angle glaucoma. Unlike primary open angle glaucoma, angle closure glaucoma can cause rapid permanent vision loss. Angle closure glaucoma occurs when the drain inside of the eye becomes blocked by the iris, causing the pressure inside of the eye to increase. Angle closure glaucoma can either occur rapidly (acute angle closure glaucoma), or slowly (chronic angle closure glaucoma). Regular eye exams can detect risk factors and early signs of angle closure glaucoma, and can help decrease the risk of permanent vision loss from glaucoma.

Symptoms of Glaucoma?

If you have glaucoma, there are often no symptoms until later stages of the disease where there has already been significant vision loss. Early symptoms of open angle glaucoma are usually unnoticeable, there is generally no pain or noticeable vision loss. Patients with acute angle closure glaucoma will likely experience symptoms of blurry vision, severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and halos around lights. Annual eye evaluations are essential for early detection of signs and risk factors of glaucoma.

Risk Factors for Glaucoma

Some people are at a higher risk for developing glaucoma. Risk factors for glaucoma include:
If you have any risk factors for developing glaucoma it is recommended that you have yearly dilated eye exams. Early detection and treatment can almost always prevent significant vision loss from glaucoma.

  • Age over 60- people over 60 years of age are 6 times more likely to develop glaucoma

  • African Americans- glaucoma is 6-8 times more prevalent in people of African descent

  • Family History- increase risk of glaucoma by 4-9 times if a family member has glaucoma

  • Increased eye pressure

  • History of eye injury

  • Long term use of steroid medications

  • Diabetes, High blood pressure, migraine headaches

  • Thin corneas

  • Pigment dispersion syndrome

  • Pseudoexfoliation syndrome

  • Uveitis

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed

Early detection and treatment is important in preventing significant vision loss from glaucoma. Yearly dilated eye exams are recommended especially for individuals with any risk factors for glaucoma. Several indicators and risk factors for glaucoma can be identified with a dilated eye examination including; elevated eye pressure, optic nerve head damage, narrow anterior chamber angle, pigment dispersion syndrome, and pseudoexfoliation syndrome. Envision Specialty EyeCare and Dry Eye Center utilizes the most advanced technology and evaluation techniques to detect early signs of glaucoma.

Glaucoma Treatments

Early detection and treatment is key to preventing vision loss from any type of glaucoma. All treatments for glaucoma, whether surgical or medical, are designed to lower eye pressure or prevent angle closure. There are several clinical trials that have proven if you lower eye pressure in people with glaucoma you can slow progression of the disease. Treatments for glaucoma include:

  • Prescription eye drops

  • Oral medications

  • Laser procedures

  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)

  • Traditional glaucoma surgery

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