Few eye conditions are as serious as glaucoma, as it is the 2nd leading cause of blindness worldwide. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), upwards of 2.7 million people living in the US have glaucoma, but as many as half of the individuals living with it have no idea they are suffering from the disease. Stats like this highlight the need for increased awareness about glaucoma.
Early intervention through regular eye exams are critical and luckily, booking an exam with Everett & Hurite is fast and easy with our online scheduling tool. Our experienced ophthalmologists specializing in glaucoma can provide thorough eye exams to detect glaucoma and other eye disorders.
Glaucoma can be described as a group of diseases that affect the eyes. Itis characterized by the damage of the optic nerve and loss of visual fields. Unfortunately, any damage to the optic nerve can lead to progressive and even irreversible vision loss, which is what makes this disease so serious. Glaucoma is most likely to be caused by a failure within the eye to properly maintain a healthy intraocular pressure or IOP, resulting in an elevated pressure within your eyes. while elevated eye pressure is a common contributor to glaucoma cases, even people with a normal IOP can develop glaucoma.
Experts currently believe that patients with glaucoma who do not have elevated eye pressure levels may suffer from poor blood flow to the optic nerve. A viscous fluid within the eye called the aqueous humor circulates through your eyes and it brings nourishment and lubrication before draining through a tiny mesh-like tissue. When that drain gets clogged, the fluid gets backed up and creates a greater-that-normal pressure on your eyes, leading to severe damage to your optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting data from your eyes to your brain, and over time, the damage caused by the increase in pressure can lead to permanent blindness.
It is important to note that while the damage from glaucoma can cause vision distortions or even blindness, some people have very few to no symptoms initially. This is why it is absolutely critical to get your eyes checked through routine eye exams to proactively identify subtle signs of glaucoma. Some common symptoms of Glaucoma include:
Damages to your eyes due to glaucoma is irreversible, and all treatment efforts from your doctors will focus on preventing further damage. Prior to any treatment, the first step that your ophthalmologist does is to complete a thorough eye examination and health history check. They use the information from your exam to devise a customized treatment plan. A more conservative approach would be to use special eye drops and medications to reduce pressure within your eyes, which applies for early stage glaucoma. Another approach is to use targeted beams of light through laser surgery to clear the blockage of your aqueous fluid. This can improve the angle at which the aqueous fluid drains from your eyes, as well as create a tiny hole to allow more fluid to drain, if need be.
In special cases, our eye surgeons can perform procedures to adjust the physiology of your eyes to decrease the pressure being applied or a glaucoma drainage device can be implanted to assist with drainage. Laser surgery is a popular glaucoma treatment option as it is effective, non-invasive and painless. Depending on the cause of glaucoma, laser surgeries will target different cells in the eye to help relieve the building pressure on the optic nerve. Patients should always review the pros and cons of this surgery versus other treatment options before undergoing the procedure.
While there is currently no surefire way to prevent glaucoma, regular eye exams will allow your doctors to find and treat the problem sooner rather than later, which will protect your eyes from the worst of its effects. Glaucoma tests during an eye exam are painless and very quick.
Certain people are more at risk of developing glaucoma than others, and should take care to schedule annual eye exams to ensure they are screened regularly for glaucoma. People at risk include patients who:
Patients should also bring a list of any medications they are on to their eye doctor during their annual eye exam, as some medications can increase your risk of developing conditions such as glaucoma.
Early detection is the best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. Our ophthalmologists at Everett & Hurite are equipped with the training and expertise required to perform a wide range of services, from basic diagnostics to highly advanced surgeries to treat Glaucoma. Schedule an appointment today using our online booking tool for a comprehensive eye exam with Everett & Hurite or call one of our 10 offices conveniently located near you.