Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It is strongly genetic and usually affects people over the age of 40. Glaucoma is caused by an elevation of the fluid pressure inside the eye, usually due to an obstruction in the channels of fluid outflow. This, in turn, causes damage to the optic nerve. There are essentially two major types of glaucoma: open angle glaucoma and narrow angle glaucoma. By far, open angle glaucoma is the most common accounting for almost 90% of all glaucoma. Open angle glaucoma is insidious in nature; with a mild elevation of pressure causing little or no symptoms until many years later when profound loss of peripheral vision occurs. Acute glaucoma, on the other hand, results in an abrupt loss of vision with marked elevation in intraocular pressure and significant pain. There are five diagnostic procedures used by our doctors to detect glaucoma:
- Measurement of the intraocular pressure (applanation tonometry).
- Visual Field examination (perimetry).
- Inspection of the optic nerve (ophthalmoscopy).
- Scanning Laser (which describes the health of the optic nerve).
- Gonioscopy (inspection of the drainage angle).
As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible. Glaucoma can rarely be cured, however, it can be arrested. There are three main forms of treatment:
- Medication (eye drops and/or pills).
Annual examinations are extremely important to detect glaucoma. Since glaucoma may occur without your being aware of it, these examinations are critical.