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 can 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 can easily 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 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 are now preparing for cataract surgery, MIGS may be an ideal option for you. MIGS 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 MIGS, most patients are able to maintain normal eye pressure after the procedure. MIGS has an excellent safety profile. MIGS is covered by Medicare and most private insurance companies.
Schedule a Consultation
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!
Frequently Asked Questions
What activities should be avoided with glaucoma?
It is advised that individuals with glaucoma avoid anaerobic exercises such as sprinting, biking, sit-ups and pullups, and weightlifting.
How long can you keep your vision with glaucoma?
Yes, for many people glaucoma does not lead to blindness. Glaucoma is controllable with modern treatment.
Should glaucoma patients wear sunglasses?
Yes, wearing sunglasses is one the simplest ways to ease discomfort caused by glare and light sensitivity.
What is the best vitamin to take for glaucoma?
Vitamin supplements that can be helpful for glaucoma include B1, B3, B12, C, A, and E.
How Common is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, and about 3 million Americans currently live with glaucoma.
What are the Types of Glaucoma?
There are four major types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma, closed-angle glaucoma, congenital glaucoma, and secondary glaucoma.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
One of the reasons glaucoma can be so dangerous is that symptoms may not be noticeable until permanent damage has been done to the vision. One symptom you may notice is that your peripheral vision, or the “edges” of your vision, begins to decrease.
Does stress affect glaucoma?
While stress cannot cause glaucoma, it may affect the way your body works. If you are highly stressed and not sleeping well, it may affect your vision.
What causes glaucoma to worsen?
Consuming high levels of trans fats has been proven to cause damage to the optic nerve.
Does the sun affect glaucoma?
Increased exposure to sunlight and UV radiation may increase the risk of glaucoma and can worsen glare sensitivity.
What are the best treatment options for glaucoma?
There are two common treatment options for glaucoma. One is the daily use of prescription eye drops that reduce eye pressure. Another is a laser procedure that helps prevent the pressure in the eye from getting too high.
Is blindness inevitable with glaucoma?
No, glaucoma is controllable with modern treatment. As long as someone follows the treatment prescribed by their doctor, glaucoma does not usually lead to blindness.