Glaucoma is the term for when the pressure inside the eye rises too high, damaging the optic nerve and causing vision loss. The condition often develops over many years without causing pain – so you may not experience vision loss until the disease has progressed. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, and vision lost to it cannot be restored. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. For these reasons, regular eye exams and early detection are critical.
Dr. Galanis is a glaucoma specialist and performs glaucoma treatment. He also uses state-of-the-art laser equipment for in-office treatment to help manage glaucoma and occasionally reduce or eliminate eye drops.
People at the greatest risk include those who are over the age of 40, diabetic, African-American, or who have a family history of glaucoma.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
There are several factors that contribute to the risk of developing glaucoma. They include some of the following:
- Family history of glaucoma
- Eye injury
- Eye condition
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Open Angle Glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma, does not have any symptoms and can develop without any warning signs. A more rare type of glaucoma, called narrow angle glaucoma, can have some of the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Severe eye pain
- Painful or reddened eyes
Diagnosis of Glaucoma
The diagnosis of glaucoma is determined after a comprehensive medical examination of the eye and a review of the patient’s medical history. Tests will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis. Loss of vision from damage to the optic nerve from eye pressure that is too high is permanent. It is imperative that routine eye care be done annually to screen for this disease that can cause permanent vision loss.
Treatment of Glaucoma
Once glaucoma has been diagnosed, treatment should begin as soon as possible to help minimize the risk of permanent vision loss. There is no cure for glaucoma, so treatment focuses on preventing further damage from occurring. The best treatment for your individual case depends on the type of glaucoma and severity of the disease, and can be discussed with your doctor. Some of the treatment methods for glaucoma are as follows:
- Medication, either as eye drops or oral medication, is used to either reduce fluid production in the front of the eye or to help drain excess fluid. Side effects of the medication may result in redness, stinging, irritation or blurry vision. Patients should advise their doctor about any medications they are taking or any allergies they have to minimize the risk of side effects. While glaucoma often has no symptoms, regular use of the medication is needed to keep the eye pressure under control.
- Laser surgery for glaucoma aims to increase the outflow of fluid from the eye or eliminate fluid blockages through laser trabeculoplasty, iridotomy or cyclophotocoagulation, occasionally, reducing a patients dependence on eye drops.
- Surgery to create a new channel to drain fluid from the eye and reduce the pressure that causes glaucoma in a procedure known as trabeculectomy. Surgery is often reserved for cases where medication and laser procedures have been unsuccessful.