What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve by limiting the circulation of aqueous humor, a vital fluid that helps with healthy eye pressure. When aqueous humor doesn’t flow properly in the eye, it can cause a build up in fluid pressure that leads to optic nerve damage. There are many types of Glaucoma, including:

Open-Angle Glaucoma

This is the most common form of glaucoma which occurs when your eye stops draining fluid correctly. This causes pressure to build which leads to damage to the optic nerve.

Normal Tension Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma occurs when there is normal pressure in the eye, but the same type of damage to the optic nerve and symptoms occur as in other types of glaucoma. Because the pressure remains normal in the eye, normal tension glaucoma is even harder to diagnose and must be monitored much more closely when detected.

Closed-Angle Glaucoma

Also known as narrow-angle or angle-closure glaucoma, closed-angle glaucoma is caused when the drainage angle on the eye fluid becomes blocked, causing pressure to build up fast. Complete blockage of an of a drainage angle results in an closed-angle glaucoma attack which have clear symptoms and requires immediate treatment.

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma is a rare type of glaucoma that occurs in infants and children and is usually inherited. While uncommon, this disease often results in blindness when not diagnosed and treated early.

Secondary Glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma develops from another eye condition or disease, such as an eye injury or tumor developing around the area to cause an increase in pressure.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

During the early stages of open-angle glaucoma, there are no clear symptoms. As the disease worsens and further damage is done to the optic nerve, peripheral blind spots may begin to develop. However, these blind spots can easily go unnoticed. Eventually, as the damage slowly progresses, you will begin to lose more and more of your vision until blindness occurs.

In the event of a Closed-Angle Glaucoma Attack, the following symptoms can occur abruptly:

  • Severe eye or brow pain
  • Redness of the eye
  • Decreased or blurred vision
  • Seeing colored rainbows or halos
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Testing for Glaucoma

If your doctor suspects glaucoma, your eyes will be tested in a variety of ways. First, your visual acuity will be checked and measurements of the pressure in your eye will be taken. Regular and complete eye exams help to monitor the changes in your eyesight and will help to determine if glaucoma has developed. Your physician may also order a visual field examination, corneal thickness determination and optic nerve head analysis. Using laser technology and enhanced computer imagery, we are often able to diagnose and detect problems before a patient begins to experience vision loss.

Treating Glaucoma

Treatment to control glaucoma is aimed at lowering intraocular pressure. This may be achieved through a variety of means, but typically involves either eye drops or laser surgery. If response to more conservative measures fail, glaucoma surgery can be used to successfully lower intraocular pressure.