Glaucoma is a common disease that causes vision loss by damaging the optic nerve; the main sensory nerve providing visual input to the brain. Although it can be associated with elevated pressure inside the eye, it can occur in individuals with normal pressures. Often glaucoma will run in families. It can cause permanent blind spots before any noticeable changes in your vision occur. Having your optic nerve evaluated and your eye pressure checked is an important part of the comprehensive eye evaluation you will receive as part of your visit to our clinic. If this exam finds evidence of glaucoma damage, further testing is often performed.
The front part of the eye has a specialized chamber that contains a clear fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid is constantly being produced and subsequently filtered out of the eye in order to maintain proper eye pressure. Glaucoma treatment is focused on reducing eye pressure even if it may appear "normal" initially.
Although most glaucoma is not curable, there are many excellent treatments available to prevent damage to your vision. Usually, a patient is initially started on medicated drops to lower the eye pressure. Laser treatment can also assist in lowering the pressure in certain types of glaucoma. Sometimes surgery is required.
If you are a candidate for glaucoma laser surgery, it may reduce the need for taking drops. The procedure involves a short office visit in which a special laser is used to treat the area where fluid is naturally drained out of the eye. The treatment is generally effective for three to five years. The process is painless and only takes a few minutes.
Occasionally, patients may require glaucoma surgery when drops and laser treatment are ineffective. Our doctors are experts in both the medical and surgical treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma surgery involves creating a passageway under the surface of the eye to help gradually release the build-up of pressure. The excess fluid is directed to the back of the eye where it is reabsorbed by the blood vessels. The operation is done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Surgery involves the creation of a drain using either a small flap of tissue or with a silicone implant. After the surgery, the laser may be used to adjust the amount of pressure release through the drainage route. The surgery usually provides years of effective pressure control. Regular follow-up after surgery is still required to ensure the glaucoma is well controlled.