GLAUCOMA DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve is connected to the retina where it sends signals to the brain. The signals are then interpreted as images.
In a healthy eye, fluid is produced inside the eye, and flows out of the eye at a rate that maintains a healthy pressure in the eye (somewhat like air fills a basketball). Elevated pressure may cause damage to the delicate nerve fibers over time. Although there may be other causes of glaucoma, most cases are related to pressure inside the eye.
While a few glaucoma patients have pain, redness and halos, most are unaware that they have glaucoma, and are gradually losing vision until sight loss is very advanced. As a result, only about half of the 3 million Americans who have glaucoma are actually aware of it. At SouthlandEye Associates, however, we know that with early detection, treatment of glaucoma is generally quite successful in preserving sight. As a result, we screen every patient for glaucoma, and do our very best to protect all our patients from suffering from this blinding disease.
According to glaucoma research, patients with the following characteristics have elevated risks for glaucoma:
- Age 40+
- Family history of glaucoma
- African-Americans or Hispanic race
- Nearsighted or farsighted
- Elevated eye pressure
- Eye injury
- Thin cornea
- Low blood pressure
- Diabetes, migraines or other conditions which affect blood flow
At Southland Eye Associates, glaucoma is generally diagnosed by checking the pressure of the eye, examining the optic nerve and testing peripheral vision. Fortunately, these tests are generally part of a routine eye exam. If evidence of glaucoma is found, additional tests may help confirm and evaluate for proper treatment.
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to maintain sight. This is generally achieved by lowering the eye pressure. Proven methods of treatment include:
- Glaucoma Eye Drops – While drops are somewhat effective in lowering pressure, all drops have side effects, are difficult to take as directed and can be expensive. Incorrect use of eye drops is a major cause of vision loss in glaucoma patients.
- Glaucoma Lasers – Lasers are as effective as eye drops in lowering pressure, and studies have shown patients have better long-term vision. Laser procedures only take about 10 minutes, afford the surgeon more consistent control and have no side effects. Laser procedures work best if performed before drops are started.
- Glaucoma Surgery – In the past, surgery was often considered a last resort. With the many new developments and procedures, however, Glaucoma can be diagnosed early and treated successfully, allowing us to save the vision of more of our Glaucoma patients.
In summary, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S., but it can, in most cases, be controlled with proper treatment and regular eye exams. To schedule your annual eye exam and glaucoma screening, contact Southland Eye today!