Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions where intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye increases. This occurs when too much fluid (aqueous) is made or aqueous in the eye cannot drain properly. Anything that slows or blocks the flow of this fluid out of the eye will cause pressure to build up in the eye. If left untreated, the major nerve in the eye (optic nerve) – and particularly its small branches – will be damaged and the final result will be blindness. Glaucoma can be treated in a number of ways by lowering the intraocular pressure. At Grochmal Eye Center, Dr. Jay C. Grochmal offers prescription eye drops, SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty), ECP (Endoscopic Cyclophotocoagulation), and drainage implants. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, all of these techniques are viable avenues for successfully preventing further vision loss and helping to preserve one’s eyesight.
Risk Factors for the Development of Glaucoma
While anyone can develop glaucoma, individuals who are at high risk for this ocular disease include those who:
- Are 40 and older
- Are of African or Asian descent
- Have diabetes
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are extremely nearsighted
- Have incurred an eye injury
- Have high blood pressure
- Are long-term steroid users
Regardless of whether or not these risk factors apply to you, it is extremely important to receive a glaucoma exam, as early diagnosis can greatly improve the probability of successful treatment and minimizing any nerve damage.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
The absence of any symptoms once glaucoma starts to develop is one of the reasons this ocular disease is so dangerous – most people do not know there is an issue until the disease has progressed. For this reason, it is critical for women and men to receive glaucoma screenings on an annual basis, especially if they are over the age of 40 and/or can relate to one or more of the risk factors highlighted above. Some of the most common indicators of glaucoma include:
- Gradual vision loss over several weeks, months, or years
- Peripheral vision loss followed later by central vision loss
- Blindness (without treatment, complete loss of vision can occur)
Glaucoma Treatment Options
As previously mentioned, there is no current cure for glaucoma. However, a number of treatment options have proven to significantly reduce and/or control the progression of the disease. Effective glaucoma treatments available at our practice include:
- Prescription eye drops – Generally the first line of treatment, this method is designed to lower intraocular pressure in the eye.
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) – This laser procedure is designed to treat the area of the eye known as the trabecular meshwork to allow for improved fluid drainage. Some new research studies favor SLT as the first line of treatment.
- Endoscopic Cyclophotocoagulation (ECP) – This laser procedure is designed to decrease fluid production in the eye for patients who have had (or are currently in need of) cataract surgery.
- Drainage implants – This surgical approach is designed to improve the drainage of fluid using a small implant placed in the eye. Examples of drainage implants include the iStent® or the aqueous shunt.
- Tubes – For advanced, uncontrolled glaucoma, tube placement surgery is a viable option.
Contact Our Practice
For the best in safe glaucoma treatment, contact Grochmal Eye Center for a consultation or appointment. Our staff will be happy to assist you.