Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye. This increased pressure, often caused by a backup of the eye’s aqueous fluid, can damage the optic nerve, cause communication with the brain to suffer, and ultimately lead to vision loss. Although glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in America, patients with glaucoma typically exhibit no symptoms at the beginning of the disease’s development. Consequently, our eye doctors at Nevada Eye Consultants consider routine eye exams the first line of defense against this common condition. Since there is no known cure for glaucoma, it is particularly important to catch this disease in its earliest stages to begin a treatment that can prevent further damage and preserve your vision.
During your routine eye exam, your doctor will look at the optic nerve as well as check your eye pressure to monitor for any unexpected changes. There are two forms of glaucoma:
- Open-Angle Glaucoma: Far more common, open-angle glaucoma is characterized by a slowing of the flow of aqueous fluid within the eye. Over time, this decreased flow through the eye’s canal can lead to a buildup in pressure and result in optic nerve damage.
- Narrow-Angle Glaucoma: Much less common, narrow-angle glaucoma is characterized by a movement of the iris that completely obstructs the eye’s ability to drain. The resulting pressure increase is severe and can result in acute closed-angle glaucoma – an emergency condition that can cause permanent blindness when not promptly addressed.
In its earliest stages, glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms. The best way to protect your eyes from glaucoma is routine eye exams so you can receive prompt treatment if diagnosed with the condition. People with an increased risk of developing the disease may include:
- Men and women over age 40
- Men and women with severe nearsightedness
- African Americans over age 35
- Men and women engaged in long-term steroid use
While the most common type of this disease – open angle glaucoma – is normally asymptomatic for quite some time, narrow-angle glaucoma can severely endanger the eye’s health in a matter of days. Symptoms of narrow-angle glaucoma may include:
- Severe eye pain
- Blurry vision
If you suspect you might be experiencing narrow-angle glaucoma, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
Although there is no known cure for glaucoma, the disease can be treated and managed to help preserve and protect your optic nerve and your vision. For some patients, medicated eye drops or oral medications can facilitate drainage of the eye’s aqueous fluid, relieving built up pressure. In severe cases of glaucoma, surgical techniques can be used to promote proper drainage and eye function. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your eye doctor will discuss which treatment method can best address your unique needs.
iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass
An iStent is an incredibly small medical device designed to relieve eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Similar in function to the type of stent used to increase blood flow in blocked vessels, the iStent can begin to work immediately. In many cases, this device can eliminate the need for medications. Additionally, the iStent can be easily placed during cataract surgery.
For more information about glaucoma, glaucoma treatments, or to schedule an eye exam with one of our doctors, please contact our office today.