What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and is a series of diseases that damage the optic nerve in the back of the eye. Glaucoma happens when fluid builds up in the eye instead of circulating normally. This fluid build-up puts pressure on the optic nerve, which damages side vision. People often don’t realize they have glaucoma until they visit their ophthalmologist for an unrelated reason. This is because glaucoma is gradual and painless as it destroys the side vision. Not until central vision (used for reading) is affected will a person really notice a visual problem. In fact, of the three million Americans who currently have glaucoma, only about half are aware of it.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
- People with an immediate family history of glaucoma
- People with diabetes
- People over 50
- Long-term steroid users
- People who are very nearsighted
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Glaucoma is painless and does not usually have any symptoms until it is severe. This is because glaucoma damages side vision, which is not as noticeable as problems with central reading vision.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma is diagnosed during a dilated eye exam. High eye pressure can be one indication of glaucoma. In order to check the eye pressure, Dr. Waters uses a painless non-irritating method, and does not check eye pressure with the “puff of air” test. He will also look at the nerve in the back of the eye. Once glaucoma is suspected patients will take a side vision test called a visual field, and they will also have a photo taken of the nerves in the back of the eye. These tests are repeated annually and compared over time to track any changes.
How is glaucoma treated?
There is no cure for glaucoma, so early detection and treatment is the key to preserving good vision. The goal is to control glaucoma so it doesn’t impair vision. The most common treatments for glaucoma include eye drops, laser surgery, and glaucoma surgery. Dr. Waters is skilled in the most advanced treatments for glaucoma. The most common laser treatment called an SLT is conveniently done in the office. This is ideal for people who don’t want the hassle or cost of using drops every day.
If you fall within one of these risk categories, click here to fill out our quick email form or call our office at 810-732-2272, so we can be of service.