January is Glaucoma Awareness Month
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness. Your vision loss can often be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment. There are often no symptoms in the earliest stages. The vision loss is usually first in the periphery. Later more advanced stages can cause total blindness.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises the public that the best defense against developing glaucoma-related blindness is by having routine, comprehensive eye exams. Dr. Stanley Grandon, Dr. Cindy Wang and I test for glaucoma at the time of your examination regardless of the reason for the visit.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease where damage to your optic nerve causes vision loss that is not reversible. It often happens when fluid builds up in your eye and may be related to eye pressure . This extra fluid can damage your optic nerve and cause you to lose your vision. You will often not notice vision loss from the earlier stages. There is usually no pain or symptoms associated.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
Dr. Stanley Grandon, Dr. Cindy Wang and I may suspect it if your intraocular pressure is elevated or if your optic nerve looks that is may have damage. Up to half of patients with glaucoma do not have an elevated intraocular pressure when examined. If we have a high suspicion, extra tests such as a peripheral vision test (a visual field), a picture of the optic nerve and checking the thickness of your cornea (pachymetry) may be recommended. Depending on the level of suspicion, we may decide to observe you or opt to initiate treatment.
If My Doctor Diagnosed Glaucoma Does That Mean I am Going Blind?
No! It can be treated by various modalities. It is important to diagnose it at an early stage. Dr. Stanley Grandon, Dr. Cindy Wang and I will often initially treat your glaucoma with a once daily drop at bedtime. We are trying to lower your eye pressure. Depending on your response to the medication and the severity of your disease, we made opt to add additional drops.
We can also treat it with laser. This laser is often performed in the office. It can be used in addition to your drops or sometimes instead of your drops, depending on the severity of your disease.
If your disease is not adequately controlled with drops and /or laser, you may require surgery to achieve control. There are several surgical options that can be performed.