We may all be extremely different in lots and lots of ways, but there are some things that we pretty much all agree on. No one likes to go the dentist. And, no one likes to try and hold still while knowing that, at any second, a blast of air is going to slam into their eyeball. We know it does not hurt (the air blast; the dentist is a different story), but it is definitely unpleasant. That said, having that particular test on our eye result in a diagnosis of glaucoma is far past unpleasant: it can be terrifying.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the US. While it is most often experienced by older adults, it can occur at any age. There are two main types, open-angle, which is the most common and involves fluid in the eye not draining properly, and angle-closure, where pressure results from poor drainage due to the angle between the iris and the cornea being too narrow. Both lead to damage to the optic nerve which can result in loss of vision and, ultimately, blindness.
There are no warning signs for the most common form of glaucoma because the effects are so gradual the change in vision is rarely detected until the condition is in an advanced stage. Vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored. The good news is that, when detected early, the condition can be treated, which makes those unpleasant exams so very important. Even though everyone should have regular exams, those who are more susceptible to glaucoma need to be especially vigilant. These include:
While there is, currently, no cure for glaucoma, there are treatment options that focus on relieving symptoms and preventing further damage. The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower the intraocular pressure in the eye. Options to do that include eye drops, laser surgery or microsurgery.
Eye drops are usually tried first to reduce the eye’s own fluid production in the front of the eye or to help drain excess fluid. For many, this can be effective. If eye drops alone are not able to bring eye pressure down to an acceptable level, your doctor may also prescribe an oral medication.
Laser surgery attempts to increase the outflow of fluid from the eye or eliminate fluid blockages through laser trabeculoplasty, which opens the drainage area, iridotomy, which makes a tiny hole in the iris to let fluid flow more freely or cyclophotocoagulation, which treats the middle layer of the eye to reduce fluid production.
Microsurgery, specifically a procedure called a trabeculectomy, is often performed after medication and laser surgery have been ineffective. A new channel is created to drain fluid from the eye and reduce the pressure.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of glaucoma, Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts is ready to provide high-quality, comprehensive care in our three convenient Long Island office locations. For more information about glaucoma, or if you have other questions or comments, please call the office most convenient to you, Bellmore, Great Neck, Little Neck or Huntington. If you would like to schedule an appointment, simply click here to go to our online scheduler.