Glaucoma is one of many different eye diseases that can threaten our vision and is estimated to affect around 3 million U.S. adults at any one time. It occurs when problems within the eye cause an accumulation of pressure. The rising intraocular pressure then places pressure onto the optic nerve at the back of the eye, which is responsible for relaying messages from the retina to the brain. As the optic nerve becomes increasingly compressed, damage occurs that could permanently affect the quality of our vision.
If you are concerned that you may be affected by glaucoma, our experienced eyecare specialists will be happy to undertake glaucoma testing for you. If a diagnosis is confirmed, we can then talk to you about your options for treatment.
The trickiest thing about the most common form of glaucoma is that the symptoms develop very slowly and in many cases, patients don’t realize that they are affected until they either see their eye doctor or have lost a significant portion of their vision. Some of the things to look out for in slow-developing glaucoma include:
Loss of peripheral vision
Rainbow-colored circles around lights
However, if you are one of the rare cases of acute, fast-developing glaucoma, you are more likely to notice symptoms that include:
Intense eye pain
Although all glaucoma symptoms should be checked out by an eye doctor, any signs of fast-developing glaucoma should be seen as a matter of urgency. Prompt treatment could prevent permanent vision loss.
If your eye doctor suspects that you may have glaucoma, you will undergo a series of tests to confirm this diagnosis and determine the extent to which you are affected. Some of the tests which may be administered could include the following:
Tonometry. This is a simple test that is used to measure the amount of pressure inside your eye. Numbing eyedrops are administered beforehand, and a small device called a tonometer is gently pressed against the eye to record the pressure.
Ophthalmoscopy. This is the name used to describe a dilated eye exam. Eyedrops are given to dilate your pupils so that your eye doctor can look inside your eyes at the shape and color of the optic nerve. This will enable them to spot any abnormalities that are indicative of glaucoma or any other eye disease.
Gonioscopy. This test is used to examine the angle where the iris meets the cornea to establish whether it is open and wide (which indicates open-angle glaucoma, the most common kind) or narrow and closed. This will tell your eye doctor the type of glaucoma that you are affected by, and as a result, which treatments should be considered.
Perimetry. Also known as visual field testing, this test is used to see how wide your field of vision is. Since the peripheral vision is most often affected first in open-angle glaucoma, this test often provides one of the first indicators of the disease.
Pachymetry. Sometimes rising intraocular pressure is caused by an abnormally thick cornea. Pachymetry is used to measure the thickness of the cornea, which is the clear, domed cover on the front part of the eye.
Treating glaucoma. Unfortunately, any vision that is lost as a result of glaucoma is permanent. The good news is that it is possible to take steps to prevent any further vision loss. Some of the treatments which could be recommended could include:
Eyedrops to lower and control the pressure inside your eyes.
Oral medications, which are usually the first treatment recommended for patients with fast-developing glaucoma since they are stronger and start to work more quickly.
Laser treatment, which is another popular technique for lowering the pressure inside the eyes of patients with acute glaucoma.
In severe cases, you may be recommended to have a treatment called a trabeculectomy, which is a surgical procedure designed to remove any blockages within the natural drainage system of the eye, enabling pressure within the eyes to be reduced.
If you are concerned about glaucoma, or if you have any other questions about the disease, please don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable and experienced eyecare team in Ft. Mitchell, KY, or Dry Ridge, KY.