Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States. A simple painless eye exam can detect the disease. With early detection and treatment, glaucoma can usually be controlled and blindness prevented.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve when the pressure of the eye becomes too high. Proper eye pressure is maintained by a slow but constant flow of the clear liquid in the eye, called the aqueous humor, to the outside of the eye through a microscopic drainage system. The liquid is not related to the tears on the outer surface of the eye. Glaucoma is usually due to a blocked drainage system where the excess fluid does not drain properly. The increased eye pressure damages the optic nerve over time.
Who does glaucoma affect?
Glaucoma can affect anyone from newborn infants to the elderly. It has been estimated that up to 3 million Americans have glaucoma. At least half of those people do not know they have it because glaucoma usually has no symptoms. Risk factors for glaucoma include:
How is glaucoma detected?
To detect glaucoma, your physician will test your visual acuity, visual field, dilate your pupils and test the pressure in your eye. Fortunately, with regular and complete eye exams, medical advances have made it so we can help to monitor the changes in your eyesight to determine if glaucoma has developed. By scheduling regular check-ups with our eye doctors, we can detect glaucoma in its early stages before it has done severe damage to your eyes.
How is glaucoma treated?
Treatment to control glaucoma includes medications in the form of eye drops or pills, laser surgery or conventional surgery. By using minimally invasive procedures, such as the Lumenis Selecta Duet glaucoma laser system, Northwest Eye Physicians is changing the future vision of our glaucoma patients. The Zeiss Cirrus OCT Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Analyzer, also available at Northwest Eye Physicians, is the most up-to-date method of evaluating optic nerve deterioration. Using laser technology and enhanced computer imagery, we are often able to diagnose and detect problems before a patient begins to experience vision loss.