Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and it affects more than three million Americans, with only half knowing that they even have it. Glaucoma is a general term for a family of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which will cause a partial or complete loss of vision as it progresses. The optic nerve connects the eyes to the brain allowing us to process our vision. When damage occurs to those nerve cells, loss of vision results. Researchers do not fully understand how glaucoma occurs. Clinically, we cannot cure glaucoma, but can manage it very well. The key to managing this condition is early detection, compliance with treatment plans, and follow up. The goal of treatment is for the progression of the disease can be delayed or halted. Most of the time, there are no symptoms of glaucoma, which is unfortunate and one of more frightening aspects of this disease. The two things that typically bring a patient to an eye doctor (pain and vision loss) are not experienced with glaucoma, at least in its early stages.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: fluid inside the eye is drained too slowly out of the eye’s open drainage angle where the iris and cornea meet. This can cause intraocular pressure (IOP) to become chronically elevated and results in damage to the optic nerve.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma: the eye’s natural anatomy causes the drainage angle in the eye to be blocked off by the iris causing a severe spike in intraocular pressure. Eye pressure builds up very rapidly because fluid cannot drain from the eye. This is an ocular emergency as it can result in permanent vision loss without immediate treatment.
Normal Tension Glaucoma: eye pressure is normal, but optic nerve damage still occurs and causes vision loss over time.
Congenital Glaucoma: the angle of the eye did not form properly and fluid is not drained effectively from the eye
Pigmentary Glaucoma: the angle of eye is slowly clogged (like an air filter) with pigmented granules from the back of the iris, resulting in fluid buildup and subsequent elevated pressure.
Pseudoexfoliative Glaucoma: the angle is clogged with a flaky dandruff-like material that peels off the outer lens of the eye. Again fluid builds up and causes elevated pressure. Traumatic Glaucoma: caused by injury to the eye either immediately following or even years later. This includes prior surgeries and infections.
In depth evaluation of the optic nerve head Periodic measurements of your eye pressure Perimetry: visual field tests to evaluate peripheral field Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Gonioscopy: thorough examination of the angle of the eye Pachymetry: measuring thickness of the cornea