What is glaucoma?
Most of us realize that high blood pressure can compromise heart health. Similarly, high pressure in the eye can lead to optic nerve damage, which can result in vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. This eye condition is known as glaucoma.
In a healthy eye, there is an open area called the anterior chamber just behind the cornea. Clear fluid flows continuously through this area, exiting at the angle where the cornea meets the iris. If fluid flows out too slowly, pressure builds up and can damage the optic nerve. Since the optic nerve contains over one million fibers designed to carry visual information to the brain, any injury to this nerve can have a lasting impact on your sight.
What are the risk factors for glaucoma?
High blood pressure can also have an effect on eye pressure and compromise the optic nerve. Keeping your blood pressure within a normal range can reduce your risk of glaucoma.
Since tolerance for eye pressure varies from person to person, regular eye exams that include glaucoma testing are essential to evaluating eye health and preserving your sight.
Glaucoma has been known to occur in individuals with normal eye pressure. According to the National Eye Institute, anyone can develop glaucoma, but the following groups are at higher-than-average risk:
- African Americans older than 40
- All adults over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
- Anyone who has a family history of glaucoma
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Early-stage glaucoma has no symptoms, but as the condition grows more severe, peripheral vision — the ability to see objects to the side — is lost. Those who suffer from glaucoma may also experience what looks like tunnel vision, with dimness or darkness along the edges of your sight.
Diagnosis and treatment for glaucoma
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for those at risk for glaucoma, as vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be corrected or regained.
During a comprehensive eye exam, you’ll be given drops to dilate your eyes. This will allow the eye care professionals at Fry Eye Associates to evaluate, test, and measure the pressure in your eyes to determine if you’re at risk for glaucoma.
In the event of a glaucoma diagnosis, both non-surgical and surgical options are available. Early stage glaucoma can be treated with prescription medications or eye drops, which help reduce pressure in the eye.
Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT)
A noninvasive glaucoma treatment called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) can be effective in draining excess fluid in the eye, thereby reducing eye pressure.
During SLT, the eye is numbed with eye drops and a high-intensity beam of light is used to increase the size of the natural drainage holes in your eye. While the treatment works well for many, it may need to be repeated again over time to maintain normal eye pressure.
A similar procedure, a trabeculectomy, employs surgery rather than lasers to improve the eye’s drainage. It can be done in combination with — or independent of — cataract surgery.
Micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)
In glaucoma cases that require conventional surgery, Fry Eye Surgery Center offers minimally invasive options, including the revolutionary procedure known as MIGS — Micro Invasive Glaucoma Surgery.
MIGS enables Fry Eye surgeons to implant devices such as Xen and the iStent, the world’s smallest medical implant to be embedded in the human body and the first MIGS device approved by the FDA. All three options restore the eye’s natural ability to drain fluid and may reduce a patient’s need for glaucoma medication.