What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition where too much pressure within the eye causes damage in the optic nerve, which can result in varying degrees of permanent vision loss.
There are few symptoms indicating the onset of glaucoma, and it has a wide range of causes. Glaucoma may occur as a result of disease, eye trauma, surgeries, genetics, and other idiopathic (or unexplained) reasons.
Once glaucoma is detected, our goal as eye doctors is to monitor the pressure in your eye so it doesn’t progress to damaging stages. By using Optical Coherence Tomography(OCT), we are able to determine total nerve thickness to map your optic nerve. Based on that prediction we work to prevent the condition from worsening through a few methods including medication and surgery. Every person’s needs are different, and you should select the treatment or combination of treatments tailored to work best for you. Options include:
- Therapeutics – The primary therapeutics used to reduce pressure are eye drops. The pros of using these drops are not undergoing a surgical procedure, the cons are that they can be cumbersome to take for life, may be costly depending on insurance coverage, and can cause irritation and color change.
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) – SLT is a quick and painless laser treatment surgery used as a first line of treatment as opposed to therapeutic eye drops.
- iStent – used in conjunction with cataract surgery, the patented iStent is used to reduce pressure and reliance on medication. For more information visit Glaukos.
- Omni – a procedure independent of cataract surgery to reduce pressure in the eye from three points of resistance. For more information visit OmniSurgical.
Here are a few frequently asked questions we receive surrounding glaucoma:
- How can I prevent glaucoma? – The short answer is, there’s not a good way to do this. The most effective prevention is early detection through routine eye exams. Glaucoma is exceptionally rare in young children, but adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond should seek yearly exams to catch glaucoma early.
- I have glaucoma, am I going to go blind? – The goal of routine glaucoma screening is to prevent just that. Due to testing and treatment, we’ve seen a huge decrease in the number of people losing vision in recent decades.
- Will I have to have treatment for life? In most cases, yes. The good news is we can reduce the frequency and invasiveness of treatments to help life return as close to normal as possible.
- Who is most likely to have glaucoma? The strongest indicator is genetic predisposition. Those with a family history of glaucoma should actively seek routine screening beginning at age 30 and up.
Given the lack of symptoms leading up to a diagnosis and the lack of preventative measures available to avoid glaucoma, it may seem like a daunting condition. At the end of the day, we’d encourage you not to be afraid of it. Glaucoma develops over a number of years, not overnight. With regular screening and consultation, should you develop glaucoma, you and our doctors can take the time needed to make the best decision regarding treatment.
For more information or to schedule a screening with Genstler Eye Center, call (785) 273-8080 to schedule an appointment.
See related – Common Treatments & Conditions