Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve in the eye. They can lead to severe vision loss and in some cases even blindness.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It occurs gradually when the eye does not drain fluid like it should. The fluid builds and puts pressure on the optic nerve, which eventually causes damage.
This type of glaucoma is also referred to as “closed-angle glaucoma” or “narrow-angle glaucoma”. Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris is positioned very closely to the drainage angle in the eye, blocking it. If the drainage angle becomes blocked the pressure in the eye rises very quickly. This occurrence is called an acute angle closure attack and should be addressed and treated immediately.
Also called normal-tension glaucoma, low-tension glaucoma occurs in people with normal eye pressure. Optic nerve damage and loss of vision occur despite have regular pressure in the eye.
While most cases of glaucoma are found in older adults, it is possible for young adults and children to have the disease. In children and infants, the eyes may show symptoms including clouding, sensitivity to light, and excessive tears.
There are no warning signs in the early stages of any type of glaucoma. When patients start to experience symptoms the disease has already progressed, which can make treatment more difficult. This is why it is extremely important to get regular eye exams, especially as you grow older.
People who have ocular hypertension, which means they have a higher than average eye pressure, are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma and should be monitored carefully by their ophthalmologist.
Many people do not notice changes in their vision until the damage is severe. The first thing that a patient will start to notice fogging in the vision that may be peripheral or central.
Angle-closure glaucoma often occurs suddenly, so most people are not aware they have a problem until they experience an acute attack. Signs of an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack include abrupt blurry vision, severe eye pain, headache, nausea, vomit, and seeing halos around lights. This should be addressed immediately to prevent the loss of vision.
The most common type of glaucoma is caused by increased pressure in the eye. The eye constantly produces aqueous humor, which is the clear liquid in the front part of the eye. In order to maintain a healthy eye pressure, the same amount of aqueous humor that is produced needs to drain. If the fluid is not able to drain properly from the drainage angle, then pressure builds and causes damage to the optic nerve.
The optic nerve is made up of tiny nerve fibers. As damage occurs to the individual nerve fibers, the eye loses vision in those areas. Because they are very small, patients do not notice when the nerve fibers first begin to die.
The only way to know if a patient has glaucoma is through a complete eye exam. The doctor will measure eye pressure, inspect the drainage angle, examine the optic nerve for damage, test peripheral vision, take a measurement of the optic nerve, and measure the thickness of the cornea.
Dr. Tate provides state of the art care for glaucoma patients at New Vision Eye Center and can assist patients with diagnosis and treatment through medication or laser surgery, depending on the patient's needs. Treatment of glaucoma can also be treated at the time of cataract surgery.
The most common treatment given to glaucoma patients is eye drops used to lower pressure in the eye. Some drops achieve this by reducing the amount of fluid in the eye, while others reduce pressure in the eye in order to facilitate fluid drainage.
Dr. Tate performs surgery for glaucoma at New Vision Eye Center including SLT laser (laser trabeculoplasty) and MIGS surgeries including iStent implantation and ab-interno canaloplasty with the Visco360 device.
During this procedure, a cold laser is directed at drainage angle where fluid is supposed to drain from the eye. The laser beam prompts a biological and chemical change in the eye that results in better drainage, lowering the pressure in the eye.
The iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent is used in patients who suffer from both glaucoma and cataracts. The device regulates pressure in the eye and can be implanted during the time of cataract surgery.
The Visco360 device is used to enlarge the drainage canal in the eye (the Canal of Schlemm) and to remove part of the membrane covering the drainage canal. These two step, ab-interno canaloplasty and goniotomy, work to improve the drainage of the aqueous from the eye back into the bloodstream.
There are little to no symptoms caused by glaucoma which is why it is commonly referred to as the silent thief of sight. The damage and blindness caused by glaucoma are irreversible, so it is extremely important to get annual eye exams.
Call New Vision Eye Center today to schedule an evaluation. (772)257-8700.