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Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is a common eye disease characterized by increased fluid pressure in your eye that damages the optic nerve, which carries visual impulses to the brain. Most forms of glaucoma do not produce symptoms until your vision is already severely damaged. But if diagnosed early, the disease can be controlled and permanent vision loss can be prevented.
We perform a comprehensive glaucoma screening that consists of three non-invasive, pain-free procedures:
- Measurement of intraocular eye pressure (IOP). Elevated IOP is a major risk factor for the development of glaucoma. Optic nerve damage becomes more likely as the IOP increases.
- Assessment of the optic nerve. A slit lamp microscope is used to determine whether or not there are changes in the optic nerve.
- Evaluation of your visual field. Glaucomatous damage produces characteristic defects in the visual field.
Glaucoma treatment seeks to decrease your intraocular pressure and prevent damage to the optic nerve. Different types of glaucoma require different therapies. At the beginning of treatment, your doctor generally will recommend medication or a combination of medications for your specific condition. Therapies may include:
- Eye drops to reduce intraocular pressure. Several different classes of glaucoma medications are available including beta-blockers, prostaglandin analogues, alpha adrenergic agonists, miotics and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. These medications work by either reducing the rate at which fluid in the eye is produced or increase the outflow of fluid from the eye.
- Laser treatment to open the drainage angle and reduce intraocular pressure.
- Surgery to create a new passage for fluid drainage. This treatment usually is reserved for cases that cannot be controlled by medications and/or laser treatment.
Glaucoma operations have been shown to be safe and effective surgical treatments. The following surgical procedures lower the intraocular pressure by creating a route for aqueous fluid to drain out of the eye:
- Drainage implants: A tube inserted into your eye shunts the aqueous fluid that circulates through your eye to a silicone plate that is attached to the white portion of your eye (sclera).
- Trabeculectomy: An opening, surgically created under a trap-door incision in the sclera, allows the aqueous fluid to drain. Anti-scarring medications such as mitomycin or flurouracil are commonly applied at your operation site to reduce scarring that could close the trap door.