WHAT IS Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a set of disorders that can harm the optic nerve, which is in charge of sending visual impulses to the brain. When neglected, glaucoma will often lead to tunnel vision and/or complete blindness. It is virtually always due to increased pressure within the eye from built-up fluid. Glaucoma primarily impacts men and women over 60 years of age. Today, about two million individuals in this country have glaucoma, many of whom haven't been diagnosed. At first, glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms and is often known as the “silent thief." Although scientists haven't found a cure for the condition, it may be controlled through early detection and the appropriate therapies.
This condition is an important reason why receiving comprehensive eye exams no less than every two years is vital for your overall eye health. At The Eye Center of Central PA, we utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies and our team is extensively trained to perform a range of advanced procedures to address glaucoma. If you are over 40 years of age, contact us at our Central PA office to arrange your comprehensive exam and get ahead of managing your ocular health.
Types of Glaucoma
There are several different types of glaucoma that could ultimately affect your eye health and vision, including:
- Open-angle: Open-angle glaucoma is the most commonly occurring type of glaucoma and develops when the trabecular meshwork of the eye makes it more difficult for excess fluid to drain.
- Closed-angle: Closed-angle glaucoma develops when fluid from the eye cannot drain due to the narrow space between the iris and cornea, leading to buildup.
- Secondary: Secondary glaucoma is often diagnosed when another preexisting condition is identified as the cause of fluid buildup in the eyes. Like primary glaucoma, secondary glaucoma can be open-angle or closed-angle and might develop in one or both eyes.
- Traumatic: Traumatic glaucoma develops when the condition is caused by a direct injury to the eye.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?
The many kinds and degrees of glaucoma usually have no symptoms at all in the beginning. Nonetheless, each type might also present one or more symptoms that can cause minor or significant discomfort. When glaucoma starts to worsen, patients often notice blind spots in their peripheral vision, hazy vision, eye strain, and bloodshot eyes. As the condition advances even further, symptoms often start to include pronounced glare, extremely reduced peripheral vision, vomiting, and pain in the eyes. Since glaucoma doesn't commonly cause any symptoms to manifest until it has reached the more advanced stages, receiving frequent, comprehensive eye exams is extremely important. Getting an early diagnosis can be crucial for glaucoma treatment and to ensure your eye health in the long run.
WHAT CAUSES GLAUCOMA?
All cases of glaucoma are caused by damage to the optic nerve. Almost always, this deterioration is due to high intraocular pressure from fluid that can't drain properly. In healthy eyes, the fluid that nourishes the eye tissue can flow from one area to another via a special tissue (called the trabecular meshwork) that sits between the iris and the cornea. Sometimes, this movement can be prevented or extremely slow, which results in fluid retention.
The most familiar kinds of glaucoma are diagnosed based on the condition of the trabecular meshwork and the narrowness of the space between the iris and cornea. If fluid retention is related to a problem in the trabecular meshwork, it is called open-angle glaucoma. In contrast, if the buildup is related to the width of space between the cornea and iris being too small or blocked, this is known as narrow- or closed-angle glaucoma. Scientific studies have shown that glaucoma caused by intraocular pressure can run in families. Besides heredity and the aging process, additional factors that may influence internal eye pressure include long-term use of corticosteroid eye drops, very thin corneal tissue, being of certain ethnic descent, and having certain health conditions, such as diabetes. However, glaucoma can be the result of problems other than eye pressure. In these instances, it is considered secondary glaucoma as it is a symptom of a separate, preexisting condition.
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Glaucoma Explained Diagnosis
Our ophthalmologists conduct multiple important tests to establish if an individual has glaucoma. Each of the tests is completely comfortable, fairly simple, and quick. First, a member of our team will dilate the pupils and possibly numb the eyes with no-sting eye drops. As soon as the eye drops take effect, we will start conducting the tests. Most of the time, these will include calculating the intraocular pressure (tonometry) and how thick the cornea is (pachymetry), measuring the width of the space between the cornea and iris (gonioscopy), observing and taking images of the condition of the optic nerve, checking the patient’s range of peripheral vision, and checking for any spots of vision loss.
If a diagnosis of glaucoma is made, there are multiple treatments patients can use to help control it. All of these techniques focus on lessening internal eye pressure to prevent further damage to the optical nerve. A great number of patients who are in the initial stages of glaucoma are often able to curb or interrupt their vision loss by managing glaucoma with prescription eye drops.
For individuals whose condition is more advanced, more aggressive treatments, including MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery), laser procedures, and trabeculectomies, could possibly improve the condition quite a bit. The Eye Center of Central PA team of broadly knowledgeable ophthalmologists is committed to determining the most effective answers for our patients' individualized eye health care.
Take Control of YOUR HEALTH
At The Eye Center of Central PA, we regularly have consultations with people experiencing glaucoma to support them through managing the disease. It’s critical to know that detection and intervention as early as possible can help you keep your glaucoma under control. Our board-certified ophthalmologists urge every patient who experiences worrying symptoms, has a family history of glaucoma or has been given a previous diagnosis of glaucoma to arrange a comprehensive eye exam at one of our Central Pennsylvania facilities.