In the United States, glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness. Because it usually develops without symptoms, it’s very important that you have a comprehensive eye exam regularly. The doctors at Envy Eye Care specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.
Call 469.490.ENVY (3689) today or schedule an appointment online.
Glaucoma is a broad medical term that refers to a group of conditions that cause optic nerve damage due to an increase in pressure in the eye. Your optic nerve transmits the messages from your eye to your brain, and damage to the nerve can result in blindness.
You may be more at risk of developing glaucoma if you have a family history or if you’re over age 60. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, may also increase your risk, as well as the use of certain medications such as corticosteroids.
There are many different types of glaucoma. Identifying the type of glaucoma may determine treatment.
Primary glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma and can cause you to lose portions of your vision before you notice any vision problems. This type of glaucoma develops slowly and painlessly over time.
Secondary glaucoma usually develops after an injury to the eye or from a medical condition.
Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as closed-angle glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, is uncommon, but can result in vision changes in a very short period of time and requires medical emergency care.
Normal-tension or low-tension glaucoma
With normal- or low-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage occurs despite normal eye pressure.
Our doctors can determine if you have glaucoma during your comprehensive eye exam. The doctors at Envy Eye Care are glaucoma specialists and perform a number of tests to assess eye health and risk of glaucoma. Some special tests may include:
Tonometry: measures eye pressure
Pachymetry: measures cornea thickness to assess the risk of glaucoma
Visual field test: determines if glaucoma has affected your vision
The doctors at Envy Eye Care may also recommend special diagnostic testing with Optomap® imaging to monitor changes in your eye over time and risk of visual changes from your glaucoma.
Glaucoma can’t be cured, but the doctors at Envy Eye Care can provide treatment to help prevent progression of the condition to preserve your vision. Treatment is usually aimed at reducing eye pressure, which can be managed with medication. It is important to give a list of every medication you take regularly, as some drugs can cause problems when taken with other medications.
Surgery may be recommended if the doctor isn’t able to slow the progression of nerve damage or reduce eye pressure.
Because chronic forms of glaucoma can destroy vision before any signs or symptoms are apparent, be aware of these risk factors:
Elevated Internal Eye Pressure
If your internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure) is higher than normal, you are at increased risk of developing glaucoma -- though not everyone with elevated intraocular pressure develops the disease.
People over age 60 are at increased risk for the disease. Elderly adults over age 80 have three to ten times the risk of developing glaucoma as individuals in their 40s. For African Americans or Hispanic/Latino, however, the increase in risk begins after age 40.
African Americans or Hispanic/Latino are significantly more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians and are much more likely to suffer permanent vision loss as a result. People of Asian descent have an increased risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma.
Having a family history of glaucoma increases your risk of developing glaucoma.
Some studies indicate that diabetes may increase your risk of developing glaucoma, as do high blood pressure and heart disease.
Severe trauma to the eye can result in immediate increased eye pressure and future increases in pressure due to internal damage. Injury can also dislocate the lens, closing the drainage angle and increasing pressure.
Other Eye-related Risk Factors
Eye anatomy (namely corneal thickness and optic nerve appearance) indicate risk for development of glaucoma. Conditions such as retinal detachment, eye tumors, and eye inflammations may also induce glaucoma. Some studies suggest that high amounts of nearsightedness may also be a risk factor for the development of glaucoma.
Using corticosteroids for prolonged periods of time appears to put some people at risk of getting secondary glaucoma.
These self-care steps can help you detect glaucoma in its early stages, which is important in preventing vision loss or slowing its progress.
Get regular dilated eye examinations
Regular comprehensive eye exams can help detect glaucoma in its early stages, before significant damage occurs. If you're at risk of glaucoma, you'll need more frequent screening.
Know your family's eye health history
Glaucoma tends to run in families. If you're at increased risk, you may need more frequent screening.
Regular, moderate exercise may help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure. Talk with your doctor about an appropriate exercise program.
Take prescribed eye drops regularly
Glaucoma eye drops can significantly reduce the risk that high eye pressure will progress to glaucoma. To be effective, eye drops prescribed by your doctor need to be used regularly even if you have no symptoms.
Wear eye protection
Serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma. Wear eye protection when using power tools or playing high-speed racket sports in enclosed courts.
For expert eye care and management of glaucoma, call 469.490.ENVY (3689) today or schedule an appointment online.