Glaucoma is an eye disease that is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is fairly common in adults over age 35. Two out of every 100 people in this age group have vision threatened by this disease. When diagnosed early, blindness from glaucoma can usually be prevented.
The key to preventing optic nerve damage, or blindness from glaucoma, is early diagnosis and treatment. Medical eye examinations from your eye care professional are the best defense against glaucoma.
The Glaucoma Examination
If you are over age 35, you should have your eyes checked for glaucoma every two or three years. There are two major categories of glaucoma, open angle and narrow angle. The most common is Open Angle Glaucoma which has no symptoms in its early stages. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can make the diagnosis. During the painless examination, the pressure of the eye will be measured. This is only part of the examination for glaucoma. Using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope, the doctor will examine the back of your eye to see if the optic nerve appears healthy. Side vision will be grossly tested for shrinkage or blind spots. If anything looks suspicious, other tests may be performed.
Medical glaucoma treatment
Control of glaucoma by drugs can only be effective if a patient adheres to the treatment schedule prescribed by their eye doctor. The treatment team includes both you and your doctor. Medication should never be stopped without first consulting your doctor. It is always important to inform all the physicians you visit about the eye medications you are currently using. Remember, it is your vision, and you must do your part in maintaining it. Your eye care professional should be consulted whenever there is any decrease in vision or increase in pain.
Glaucoma is usually controlled with eye drops used two to four times a day or by pills taken in various combinations. These medications act to decrease eye pressure either by assisting flow of fluid out of the eye or by decreasing the amount of fluid entering the eye. To be effective, these medications must be taken regularly and continually.
Patients with any type of glaucoma need periodic examination. Glaucoma sometimes gets worse (or better) without the patient being aware of it, and as a result, treatment may need to be changed after a while. As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eye drops, pills, and surgery are used to prevent further damage from occurring and to preserve existing vision.
However, treatment may occasionally result in unwanted side effects. You should notify your eye doctor immediately if there is a question of possible side effects.
Lens Extraction for Narrow Aangle Glaucoma Treatment
Over 30 years ago, Dr. Gayton began performing an innovative and effective treatment for patients with narrow angle glaucoma. The procedure involves using lens extraction to open the peripheral angle and increase the depth of the anterior chamber. This serves to reduce the intraocular pressure (IOP) in most patients and frequently results in improved vision. All of our surgeons, as well as numerous surgeons worldwide, have adopted this technique and have performed thousands of lens extractions to improve narrow angles.