Managing Glaucoma – The Silent Thief of Sight
According to the American Association of Ophthalmology (AAO), there are approximately 2.2 million people in the United States over the age of 40 who suffer from Glaucoma. Due to few if any warning signs, more than half of the men and women who have Glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease until irreversible effects have taken place. It is important to understand how Glaucoma gradually eliminates vision without even being noticed.
The lack of warning signs unfortunately creates a population that does not receive treatment. These individuals with this disease are slowly and permanently losing their sight. People with diabetes, high blood pressure or are over the age of 40 are at higher risk of developing Glaucoma. Studies show that people with a family history of Glaucoma and of African-American descent are four times more likely to develop the disease.
OSM and the AAO are working to increase awareness about Glaucoma in an effort to prevent suffering from this detrimental disease. Glaucoma causes increased pressure within the eye. The fluid is unable to drain to relieve the pressure. Although, Glaucoma is incurable, timely detection and treatment can slow its progression and preserve sight.
For those suffering from Glaucoma treatment is life-long with surgery at times the best option or a necessity to lower the pressure in the eye. For many years, eye drops were the treatment of choice for Glaucoma. There are now many treatments to choose from when dealing with this disease. Advanced laser procedures are usually less expensive over time than eye drops plus laser procedure costs are often covered by insurance.
The earlier you detect Glaucoma, the better chance doctors have of slowing its progression and preserving eyesight. Annual eye exams, including the measurement of your intraocular pressure allow ophthalmologists to diagnose and treat the disease.
Glaucoma – What Is It?
Defined as a disease of the optic nerve, Glaucoma interrupts the nerve which carries images seen by the brain. With higher than normal levels of intraocular pressure, people are at greater risk for damage to the optic nerve and even blindness.
The condition of Glaucoma occurs when the eye drainage area or drainage angle of the aqueous humor is blocked keeping excess fluid in the eye, increasing pressure and damaging the fibers of the optic nerve.
Detection of Glaucoma is best conducted through regular eye exams by checking the intraocular pressure of the eye. There are other methods of testing vision for signs of Glaucoma as well.
The Ophthalmic Specialists of Michigan perform a complete and thorough eye exam which includes:
- Tonometry or measurement of the intraocular pressure of the eye
- Gonioscopy or visual inspection of the eye’s angle of drainage
- Ophthalmoscopy or HRT (Retinal Tomography), OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) and/or Fundus
- OCT, or Optical Coherence Tomography, Ophthalmoscopy or HRT (Retinal Tomography),and/or Fundus
- Photograph the optic nerve for possible damage diagnosis
- Peripheral exam testing the complete field of vision
The Different Types of Glaucoma
Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common form of Glaucoma. The risk of Open-Angle Glaucoma increases as you age and typically has no early-stage symptoms.
Closed-Angle Glaucoma frequently occurs in small eyes who suffer from hyperopia, or farsightedness, when the iris is too close to the angle of drainage. While some with this form of Glaucoma have no signs of the disease, others experience blurry vision, pain in the eye region, discoloration in the halo region of the eye, nausea, vomiting and headaches.
Congenital Glaucoma is bolder than other types of Glaucoma. Congenital Glaucoma is much less common and is generally diagnosed at birth. Congenital Glaucoma often requires surgery within the first 3 years of life. The symptoms include eye enlargement, cloudiness of the cornea and consistent tearing of the eye.
The experienced medical team at OSM provides the best care for eyes and vision. OSM stresses the importance of regular eye examinations on an annual or bi-annual basis, essential if for those over age 40. Eye exams are the best possible way of catching Glaucoma and preventing it from further damaging your optic nerve and its fibers. Glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss, so catching it early is OSM’s priority. Call OSM today for an appointment for a complete eye exam to ensure the health of your eyes.