Visit Us for Fast, Accurate Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that begins its development silently, without obvious symptoms and most often without pain. It progresses through its initial stages undetected; by the time you’ve noticed a change to your vision, it is too late. Only early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss from glaucoma.
It can be scary to think of life without sight. For us, what’s perhaps even scarier is that glaucoma can be effectively managed and treated assuming that it is detected and treated early. For most people, annual eye exams are the best line of defense in preventing unnecessary vision loss from glaucoma (and other eye diseases).
Glaucoma isn’t a single eye disease so much as it’s a group of diseases; they cause vision loss by damaging the eye’s optic nerve (the nerve that transmits visual stimulus to the brain).
This is usually the result of a failure of eye fluid to properly drain through the eye’s drainage canal, increasing eye pressure and eventually damaging the optic nerve.
While anyone can develop glaucoma, people over age 60 and people living with diabetes are more likely to develop the disease.
Many studies have directly correlated an increase in eye pressure with damage to the optic nerve. Eye pressure increases because clear fluid from the eye fails to properly drain from the anterior chamber in the eye via the open angle (where the cornea meets the iris). This increases eye pressure.
- Open-angle glaucoma – Despite the open angle being free from obstruction, the fluid is unable to properly drain through the mesh-like open angle. This is the most common form of glaucoma.
- Angle-closure glaucoma – This occurs when the “open angle” is too narrow to drain, or the drainage canal itself is blocked.
Glaucoma is often called the “silent thief” because it tends to creep along, slowly robbing you of your peripheral vision, before it is noticed. Symptoms can be almost non-existent outside of the gradual increase of tunnel vision.
The exception to this is acute angle-closure glaucoma, which can be marked by sudden blurry vision, halos around lights, significant eye pain, nausea, and vomiting. If you are experiencing these symptoms, visit us (or an emergency room) as soon as possible.
During a comprehensive eye exam we will use a device called a tonometer to measure your intraocular pressure (IOP).
Your IOP should normally be below 21mmHg. Measurements higher than 21mmHg suggest a potential for glaucoma and will require further testing.
We will also use our Spectralis OCT to image the ocular nerve. This technology gives us the ability to measure the health of your eye and optic nerve in great detail.
We bring to Hawley some of the latest equipment available for detecting glaucoma, including the Canon Digital Retinal Camera and Diopsys Nova. This equipment lets us detect glaucoma development with extreme accuracy.
The first step in managing glaucoma is medicated eye drops that lower your IOP. These medications are quite effective- so much so, in fact, that many people stop complying with their treatment regimen (and thus cause preventable and unnecessary vision loss).
It is vital that you adhere to your treatment regimen. If you wish to discontinue for any reason (such as the eye drops causing irritation), do not discontinue use until you consult with us.
Other treatments involve surgeries designed to facilitate proper fluid drainage, or the insertion of a shunt that accomplishes the same.
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