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Glaucoma

Long Island Glaucoma Patient

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the US, and can affect patients of all ages, many of who do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease.

With today’s technology and better treatment options, glaucoma is being detected earlier and therefore permanent loss of vision can be minimized.

There are two main types of the disease, open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle is the most common type of glaucoma and involves fluid in the eye not draining properly through the trabecular meshwork. Angle-closure glaucoma involves a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye and poor drainage because the angle between the iris and the cornea is too narrow.

Many patients do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of glaucoma, including no pain and no vision loss. This makes it difficult for many patients to know if they have the disease. Newer studies show that what was once considered a normal eye pressure may still be at risk for developing the disease. Therefore, routine eye exams and early detection is imperative for early diagnosis.

Diagnosing Glaucoma

While some patients may experience symptoms as the disease progresses, others do not learn they have the condition until they undergo a routine eye exam. There are several different exams performed to diagnose glaucoma, including a visual field and optic nerve analysis. These tests measure peripheral vision and how well patients can see at various distances. Other tests may also be performed, such as tonometry to measure the pressure inside the eye and pachymetry to measure the thickness of the cornea.

Treatment for Glaucoma

Once the disease has been diagnosed, treatment should begin as soon as possible to help minimize the risk of permanent vision loss. There is no cure for glaucoma, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing further damage from occurring. Most cases of glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, laser surgery or microsurgery. The best treatment for your individual case depends on the type and severity of the disease, and can be discussed with your doctor.

  • Eye drops are used to reduce fluid production in the front of the eye or to help drain excess fluid, but can lead to redness, stinging, irritation or blurry vision. Patients should tell their doctor about any allergies they have to minimize the risk of side effects.
  • Laser surgery for glaucoma aims to increase the outflow of fluid from the eye or eliminate fluid blockages through laser trabeculoplasty, iridotomy or cyclophotocoagulation.
  • Microsurgery involves a surgical procedure called a trabeculectomy, which creates a new channel to drain fluid from the eye and reduce the pressure that causes glaucoma. Surgery is often performed after medication and laser procedures have failed.

Preventing Glaucoma

While there are no surefire ways to prevent the disease from developing, regular screenings and early detection are the best forms of protection against the harmful damage that the disease can cause. While anyone can develop glaucoma, some people are at a higher risk for developing the disease. These people may include those who:

  • Are over the age of 60
  • African Americans over the age of 40
  • Have a family history of the disease
  • Have poor vision
  • Have diabetes

Patients should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years, especially if they have a higher risk of developing the disease. Older patients may be encouraged to be tested more frequently.

To learn more about glaucoma and how you can be tested for this serious condition, please call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.