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The doctors at SIEHT have the experience and advanced knowledge to detect glaucoma and immediately deal with the condition. When you trust SIEHT, you are in good hands.

It is estimated that glaucoma is threatening the vision of two out of every hundred persons age 35 and over. Glaucoma can result in blindness, and is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States today. We refer to glaucoma as the “silent thief” because glaucoma typically has no symptoms until partial vision loss has occurred. Loss of vision due to glaucoma is irreversible. However, there are steps you can take to help in dealing with glaucoma.

Early Treatment is Key

Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma may prevent blindness and loss of vision. For this reason, it is important that persons over age 35 undergo eye examinations, at least every 2 years, and persons with a family history of glaucoma may need examinations more often.

Simply stated, glaucoma is elevation of the pressure inside the eye. The aqueous humor is a clear, transparent liquid that continually circulates throughout the eye. When this circulation becomes restricted for one reason or another, pressure inside the eye begins to rise. As the pressure inside the eye increases, the optic nerve is damaged. The optic nerve is comprised of millions of nerve bundles which transmit light images to the brain where they are translated into what we know as sight. When these nerve bundles are damaged, blind spots in areas of vision develop. With early glaucoma, these blind spots occur in the side (peripheral) vision and go undetected. Typically, there is no pain associated with the most common form of glaucoma. If the pressure inside the eye goes unchecked for a period of time, the damage increases and becomes permanent, and blindness results.

The 4 Types of Glaucoma

The aqueous humor is a clear, transparent liquid that continually circulates throughout the eye. When this circulation becomes restricted for one reason or another, pressure inside the eye begins to rise. Typically, there are four general types of glaucoma:

  • Chronic open-angle glaucoma
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Congenital glaucoma
  • Secondary glaucoma(s)

Chronic Open-Angle Glaucoma

By far the most common type of glaucoma, chronic open angle glaucoma, occurs when the exit of aqueous humor from the eye is restricted by inadequate drainage. Chronic open-angle glaucoma develops slowly over a long period of time and results in the quiet loss of vision, because no symptoms occur until the optic nerve is extensively and permanently damaged.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

If the front of the eye, or the angle between the iris and cornea, is narrow or crowded, pressure inside the eye may rise chronically or suddenly. This chronic or sudden blockage of the eye’s outflow system is called narrow angle or angle-closure glaucoma. Patients may or may not complain of blurred vision or halos around lights, severe pain, nausea and vomiting. Unless the pressure is brought under control rapidly, complete blindness may result in a very short time.

Congenital Glaucoma

If the outflow system of the eye exhibits abnormalities from the time of birth, congenital glaucoma may result. Infants born with glaucoma may be extremely sensitive to light and tear excessively, or the front of the eye may be enlarged or cloudy. Fortunately, this condition is uncommon. An eye examination is advised even for newborns if such symptoms are noted.

Secondary Glaucoma

Glaucoma may result from trauma or injury, diabetes, or previous stroke in the eye, or may happen as a result of certain medications or inflammation. These are all conditions which may lead to blockage of aqueous drainage from the eye and high intraocular pressures.

Treating Glaucoma

Glaucoma can sometimes be controlled by topical medications (eye drops), or by oral medications. These medications assist the outflow of fluid or may decrease the amount of fluid produced within the eyes. All eye drops and oral medications have potential side effects. If medications are not effective in the control of glaucoma, laser may be indicated in order to decrease the pressures and preserve vision.

Understanding Glaucoma

Have you ever wondered why your optometrist wants to check you each year for glaucoma? There’s a very good reason! Glaucoma has been called the “silent thief of sight” because vision loss can happen gradually over time and often without any symptoms. Worldwide it is the second leading cause of vision loss behind cataracts; it is the number one cause of vision loss in African Americans.

So, what is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a term used to describe damage to the optic nerve – the nerve that makes it possible for you to see. The main cause of damage is from excess fluid in the eye that is not draining properly. This causes pressure on the eye and eventually damages the optic nerve fibers. When this pressure is building and doing damage, often there are no symptoms. Any symptoms that you have because of glaucoma might mean damage has been done. Some of the symptoms might be severe pain in your eyes or frequent migraines, blurred vision, seeing halos or rainbows, and nausea or vomiting. If you have these symptoms, see an ophthalmologist immediately.

Because people can have glaucoma without knowing it, you should be aware of factors that put you at risk. Some of these are: being over 40, having family members who have glaucoma, African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics. Other risks include any kind of eye injury or weakness and health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation, and high eye pressure.

If you have one or more risk factors – especially a family history — you should make an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist. There are several tests that can be used to determine your eye health. First, the doctor will test your eye pressure. This might be done by numbing your eye with drops, then measuring how your cornea resists pressure. A high-pressure reading is often the first sign of glaucoma.

Other tests that might be performed include an inspection of your eye’s drainage angle and inspecting your optic nerve by magnifying the interior of the eye. Another test is to measure the thickness of your cornea using a pachymeter. This is placed on the eye and measures the cornea; a very thin cornea is an indicator for glaucoma.

If it is determined that you have glaucoma, there is hope. Many treatments are available to help stop further nerve damage. The first is eye drops. Medicated eye drops either reduce the amount of fluid created in the eye or help the fluid flow out of the eye.

Some patients require surgery. There are several different kinds of surgeries which are relatively quick outpatient procedures that will help your eye drain properly.

Glaucoma is a chronic disease that can be helped with prevention and treatment. The key to successful management of glaucoma is to have your eyes examined at least once a year and more frequently if your ophthalmologist determines you are at high risk. Don’t take chances with your eyes. Glaucoma can be treated effectively if caught early.

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