Have you heard of glaucoma? Glaucoma is believed to affect around three million U.S adults and is also one of the leading causes of vision loss globally. Glaucoma actually refers to a group of eye conditions that are all characterized by excessive pressure within the eyes on the optic nerve which causes damage. It’s this damage that affects the vision of people who suffer from glaucoma.
This occurs because the optic nerve is responsible for transmitting messages between the eyes and brain, and the damage prevents these messages from being sent clearly and properly. Glaucoma is nearly always progressive, which means that it will continue to get worse and further damage your vision unless you get treatment.
Symptoms Of Glaucoma
The trouble with glaucoma is that the vast majority of cases develop very slowly, with the symptoms being subtle and easily overlooked. The first symptoms start to affect your peripheral vision, which are the very edges of your line of sight. Other signs of the slow-developing variety of the condition include blurred vision and halos or rainbow-colored circles around bright lights.
Acute glaucoma is quite rare but is extremely serious since the symptoms develop quickly – as does any potential damage to your vision. For this reason, if you experience the symptoms of acute glaucoma, you must make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. These symptoms include:
- Severe eye pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Red eyes
- Blurred vision
- Tenderness around the eyes
The next step of the process to get treatment is to obtain a diagnosis.
Your eye doctor will perform a variety of different tests to determine if you are affected by glaucoma. These could include a combination of, or all of, the following:
- A tonometry test: This simple test measures your inner eye pressure
- A dilated eye exam: This exam lets your eye doctor assess the shape and color of the optic nerve to check for any abnormalities that may be caused by glaucoma
- A visual field test: This assesses your complete field of vision to check whether you have lost any peripheral vision and if so, how much
- Gonioscopy: This test examines at the angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea in order to establish the type of glaucoma that you have – slow-developing or acute. This will help ensure you get the right treatment
- Pachymetry: This test looks at the thickness of the cornea to determine if this is affecting the pressure inside your eyes. People with very thick corneas are more likely to have high levels of intraocular pressure
Treatment For Glaucoma
Any treatment for glaucoma will be based on the type of condition that you are diagnosed with. Unfortunately, patients should be made aware that any vision that has already been lost due to glaucoma will be unable to be restored. Fortunately, prompt treatment could prevent any further damage to your sight.
Acute glaucoma must be treated very quickly. This means that you will be started on treatment to lower the pressure in your eyes right away. This treatment could involve several elements, including eye drops and laser treatment. Eye drops contain medication designed to reduce the pressure in your eyes, and laser treatment attempts to remove any blockages and widen the drainage channels in your eyes so that the fluid can naturally flow out and the pressure will be reduced. You may also be recommended to have a trabeculectomy. This surgical procedure involves the removal of part of the drainage system.
Slow-developing glaucoma isn’t classed as an emergency, but you will still need to begin treatment to reduce the pressure in your eyes fairly quickly. There is a range of treatments that may be prescribed, including eye drops, laser treatment, or a trabeculectomy as described above.
Regardless of the type of glaucoma you have, your eye doctor will be committed to working with you to reduce and maintain your eye pressure so that your vision can be preserved for as long as possible. To find out more, please contact our eye care specialists today at The Eye Clinic of North Dakota by calling (701) 222-2020.