Diagnosing & Treating Glaucoma
Nearly three million Americans and six million people worldwide have glaucoma, a condition that is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. In light of National Glaucoma Awareness Month, learn about your treatment options.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of conditions that affect the optic nerve (the pathway between the brain and the eye). Glaucoma causes high pressure within the eye due to irregular fluid flow, which can lead to serious damage to the optic nerve and even blindness.
The optic nerve gets damaged because of an increase in internal eye pressure (IOP). When the optic nerve's condition is left untreated and worsens, a victim might become permanently blind within a few months or years.
Forms of Glaucoma
In open-angle glaucoma, a patient’s iris is in the right position, and their uveoscleral drainage canals are clear. However, their trabecular meshwork (located around the cornea) isn't draining properly.
In closed-angle glaucoma, a patient’s iris is not in the right position; it is squeezed against the cornea, blocking the uveoscleral drains as well as the trabecular meshwork. This means that fluid cannot circulate through the eye, leading to increased pressure.
Glaucoma is a disease that can affect anybody, regardless of age, race, or gender. However, those above 40 are the most vulnerable to developing the condition. In some cases, glaucoma tends to be genetic and may be inherited later in life.
Some risk factors of glaucoma include:
- Patients over 40.
- Patients with a history of the condition in your family.
- Patients that are farsighted or nearsighted.
- Patients that have poor vision.
- Patients that have diabetes.
- Patients that take certain steroid drugs such as prednisone.
- Patients that use certain medications for seizures or bladder control or some OTC cold remedies.
- Patients that have high blood sugar.
- Patients that have injured your eye or eyes.
- Patients that have smaller corneas than usual.
- Patients that have certain medical conditions such as sickle cell anemia, diabetes, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), heart disease, or high blood pressure.
- Patients that have high eye pressure (intraocular pressure).
- Patients that have been using corticosteroid medications like eye drops for a long period.
Diagnosis & Symptoms
Glaucoma can only be diagnosed by an eye exam. There is no current cure for this condition, which makes taking steps toward awareness essential. Closed-angle glaucoma tends to present symptoms, including:
- Decrease in contrast sensitivity.
- Loss of side vision.
- Eye pain.
- Seeing halos around light.
- Redness in the eye.
- Vomiting or upset stomach.
- Vision loss.
While glaucoma affects many patients, most have no signs or symptoms — which is why the condition has often been termed a ‘silent thief’. Early detection can prevent worsening of their condition — which can eventually lead to loss of peripheral or side vision (tunnel-vision) and central vision.
Treatment Options at California Oculoplastics and Retina
Two different forms of laser surgery help aqueous drain from the eye:
- Trabeculoplasty: for those who have open-angle glaucoma. This surgery is often used instead of or in addition to medications. Your surgeon uses a laser to improve the drainage angle — so fluid flows out properly and eye pressure is reduced.
- Iridotomy: for those who have angle-closure glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist uses a laser to create a tiny hole in the iris. This hole helps fluid flow to the drainage angle.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) allows us to examine changes in the fibers of the optic nerves. This treatment is a noninvasive imaging technology that we use to view high-resolution cross-sectional images of your retina.
OCT can help us diagnose a variety of eye conditions — including glaucoma. We’re able to track the progressions of glaucoma with this technology.
Latisse treatment is eye drops that can be used to treat glaucoma — and is also now used for eyelash growth to make them thicker, longer, and darker. Latisse contains bimatoprost, and helps to lower eye pressure. Medicated eye drops do this either by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid the eye makes. Other drops work by helping fluid flow better through the drainage angle.
Book Your Consultation Today
The skilled, compassionate team at California Oculoplastics and Retina is here to help you through any issues you might have with your eyes and the surrounding structures. From cosmetic services to reconstructive procedures, injectables, and beyond, we have the expertise needed to bring some clarity to your unique situation.
If you believe you have any of these above issues or are interested in learning more about the conditions we treat, contact our team today.