Glaucoma is a condition that affects almost 2% of Americans older than 40. That’s over 2.5 million people! It causes permanent vision loss if left untreated, and is notoriously hard to detect without a proper eye exam. In fact, there are usually no symptoms until some vision is already lost. So what can we do to stop the progression of glaucoma?
Early Detection is Paramount
Because vision loss due to glaucoma is permanent, it is absolutely essential to get your eyes regularly examined. While abnormally high eye pressure is generally the cause of glaucoma, it’s not always the case. Either way, it is necessary for a trained professional to perform a thorough examination on your eyes in order to diagnose glaucoma.
It is strongly recommended that you visit your eye doctor at least every two years, or more if you are at high risk for eye problems. During your eye exam, Dr. Diamante will perform a series of tests and screenings, some of which will give him vital information that will help determine whether or not you might have glaucoma. These tests include the visual acuity test (the classic chart on the wall with letters that become increasingly small as you go further down the page), a visual field test (checks your peripheral vision), a dilated pupil exam (reveals any injuries inside the eye). Dr. Diamante will also take measurements of your corneal thickness and eye pressure.
Treatments Are Available
While there is no cure for glaucoma as of yet, its progression can be halted through a variety of or combination of treatments. Many different kinds of medicated eye drops can be prescribed, which are designed to keep intraocular pressure (IOP) low. Eye drops can contain medicines such as prostaglandins (which loosens the muscles in the eye), beta blockers (which stops fluids from building up in the eye), or epinephrine (which halts eye fluid from being produced and helps it to flow out). There are also certain medicines that can be taken orally.
If eye drops or other medications aren’t enough, certain surgeries can also be performed.
- A laser trabeculoplasty treats open-angle glaucoma specifically. It reduces eye pressure by removing blockage from the eye’s drainage system, allowing it to drain properly. This is not to be confused with a trabeculectomy, in which part of the drainage system is entirely removed.
- An iridotomy treats acute angle-closure glaucoma. The iris is pierced, which allows fluid to drain easier.
While glaucoma may be known as “the silent thief of sight”, it certainly isn’t undetectable. Through vigilance and proactiveness, you can mitigate or prevent most severe vision damage. Don’t delay, pick up your phone and give Dr. Diamante a call!