Here at Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology, we believe the best medicine is prevention. This is the case with a common condition called glaucoma. Glaucoma, nicknamed the “silent thief of sight,” doesn’t show symptoms until irreparable vision loss has already occurred.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that causes permanent damage to the optic nerve. Inside of your eye, there is a complex system set in place to keep fluids moving in and out of the eye. When this drainage system becomes blocked, fluid is no longer able to leave the eye fast enough. This results in dangerously high intraocular pressure.
As the pressure level inside of the eye increases, the eye begins to push back onto the optic nerve, located at the back of your eye. The optic nerve is responsible for transporting brain signals from the retina. This is how you see! When the optic nerve becomes damaged, permanent vision loss will occur.
The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, shows no symptoms. Many people do not know they have glaucoma until vision loss has already occurred. The only way to know if you have glaucoma is to attend yearly or bi-yearly eye examinations.
The less common form of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, is a much more serious medical emergency. Its symptoms include: eye pain, nausea, headaches, and excessive tearing. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Who is at Risk?
The exact cause of glaucoma is unknown, however, there are some factors that may make you prone to it. You may be at higher risk of developing glaucoma if you:
- Are over the age of 60
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are of African or Asian descent
- Have other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
- Have had physical trauma to the eye
Your ophthalmologist at Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology will easily be able to diagnose glaucoma during a routine eye examination. Once diagnosed, your treatment will be aimed at preventing further vision loss. Any vision already lost to glaucoma is not treatable.
To stop further vision loss, your ophthalmologist will try different methods of stabilizing your intraocular pressure. This will be different for everyone. Common methods include:
- Medications: Glaucoma can be controlled through eye drop medicine. These drops are used every day, and will lower eye pressure to prevent vision loss.
- Laser Surgery: There are two main types of glaucoma surgery: trabeculoplasty and iridotomy. Both help drain fluid from the eye. These surgeries are typically done at your ophthalmologist’s office.
- Operating Room Surgery: Some glaucoma surgeries will be performed in an operating room. Two examples are trabeculectomy and glaucoma drainage device placement. Both of these procedures create new drainage channels in the eye for fluid to flow through.
If you’ve been managing your glaucoma symptoms with medication, and now are preparing for cataract surgery, iStent® may be an ideal option for you. iStent® is a tiny implant that’s helped thousands of people with glaucoma successfully manage their intraocular pressure. By taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during cataract surgery, you can help address both of these conditions at the same time. With iStent®, most patients are able to maintain normal eye pressure after the procedure. iStent® has an excellent safety profile. iStent® is covered by Medicare and most private insurance companies.
Have you been diagnosed with glaucoma? Do you want to schedule an overdue eye examination? Be sure to contact Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology today to schedule your appointment!