Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. It happens when fluid builds up in the front of the eye, causing pressure to damage the nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Since glaucoma is often painless and gradual in onset, it is commonly detected during a routine eye exam.
What is glaucoma?In a healthy eye, fluid is made in the front of the eye and flows out through the trabecular meshwork, which is a part of the drainage angle. If fluid doesn't flow out properly, eye pressure increases and damages the optic nerve.
To learn more about glaucoma, eye health and how to take care of your vision, visit EyeSmart, from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma.
Mire en español: https://youtu.be/QRiM0i3U25s
Unfortunately, once damage to the optic nerve has occurred it can rarely be reversed. Glaucoma-related blindness presents initially as blind spots on the periphery.
Many people do not notice these blind spots until they affect the central field of vision. Usually by this time the glaucoma is quite advanced and much vision is lost. For this reason regular eye exams are important, even in people with clear vision.
The pressure on the optic nerve can be controlled with medication. A variety of drops and pills may either decrease fluid production or increase drainage rate. Medication will not cure glaucoma and will likely be needed on an ongoing basis.
If medication is not enough to control the advance of glaucoma, outpatient laser surgery may be required. The surgeon will use a laser to create a small hole to help the fluid drain more efficiently. This treatment may be sufficient to slow the disease and maintain vision.
In some cases medication and laser surgery are not sufficient, and a more involved surgery is required. In glaucoma filtration surgery the surgeon creates a new channel for fluid to leave the eye.
The most common type of glaucoma filtration surgery is called trabeculectomy. In this surgery a small flap is created to act as a channel for the fluid to leave the eye.
A small section of the iris is then cut out to prevent the new channel from become blocked. Alternatively, a shunt may be placed in the eye to direct the fluid.
Glaucoma surgery does not reverse vision loss due to glaucoma, but may be effective in relieving pressure when medication is not sufficient. Our doctors are experienced in the latest techniques to produce the best outcomes to treat glaucoma. Make an appointment today to learn what’s right for your eyes.
Learn more about common eye problems and treatments from our helpful video collection.