Preserve your vision by controlling pressure. Early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss from glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in America.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of chronic conditions that lead to progressive damage to the optic nerve. It is often called the “sneak thief of sight” because there are no symptoms until the disease has progressed. Once vision is lost to glaucoma it cannot be restored, but blindness can be prevented with early detection and treatment.
Notice Philadelphia’s scenic Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk in the images below. The first photograph displays how it looks with normal vision. The second, third, and fourth photos depict how the boardwalk appears as glaucoma progresses in the eyes.
Commonality: Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Up to half of those with glaucoma don’t know they have the condition!
Types of Glaucoma
- Primary Open Angle
- Narrow Angle, or Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Eye pressure
- Family history
- Cardiovascular disease
Causes of Glaucoma
In primary open angle glaucoma, the drainage angle for the aqueous humor, the eye’s transparent fluid, becomes blocked. The excess fluid cannot flow from the eye and the intraocular pressure increases. The high pressure pushes against the optic nerve’s delicate fibers causing damage. Not everyone with high pressure gets glaucoma, but low-pressure does not ensure a clean bill of health. Narrow angle glaucoma is less common than open angle. In this form, the angle between the cornea and the iris is too narrow to let the aqueous humor through causing poor drainage and pressure build-up.
Detection & Diagnosis
Regular, thorough eye exams are the best way to detect glaucoma. It is only through excellent diagnostic tests that glaucoma’s progression can be monitored. There are many different methods of tracking and evaluating progression and often, a combination of tests are needed.
- Eye Drops – There are numerous eye drops that lower eye pressure by either decreasing the amount of fluid in your eyes, or increasing natural drainage.
- Peripheral Iritectomy Lasers – This laser procedure creates a second drainage hole to treat buildup.
- SLT Lasers – SLT surgery is a painless treatment option that has minimal risks. It is performed in office in moments and could eliminate the need for drops or decrease the amount.
- Glaucoma Surgery – In rare circumstances, laser procedures and drops are insufficient to manage glaucoma and surgery is needed. This often occurs after many years and in advanced disease states. There are two types of surgical procedures, which are generally effective at controlling drainage and intraocular pressure. Ask your glaucoma specialist which procedure is right for you.