Glaucoma is sometimes labeled the “silent thief of sight” because it results in peripheral vision loss without any warning symptoms. However, with early detection and modern treatment methods, about 90% of people can avoid vision loss due to glaucoma.
Regular vision exams with glaucoma screening are the best protection against vision loss due to this condition. If you have not had a recent vision exam or if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, we can help you protect your vision. Please call 504-887-7660 or email the Eye Surgery Center of Louisiana today to schedule a consultation at one of our New Orleans-area locations.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is actually not just a single condition, but many different conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve, which takes signals from the eye to the brain. As the optic nerve is damaged, glaucoma victims lose side vision and often do not notice it.
The eye has an internal fluid system that is constantly producing liquid that starts inside the eye, then drains out onto the surface where it becomes the tear fluid that keeps your eyes from drying out. In most types of glaucoma, the drainage ducts of the eye become clogged or blocked, preventing fluid from draining out of the eye. This leads to an increase in pressure in the eye (called the intraocular pressure) and this pressure damages the optic nerve. During an eye exam, an optometrist or ophthalmologist will typically evaluate your intraocular pressure to check for glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
The types of glaucoma are explained below, with some basic information of who is at risk:
- Open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It occurs when an accumulation of sediment gradually clogs the drainage ducts of the eye. It is more common in African-Americans, Hispanics, persons over age 60, steroid users, and persons with high blood pressure. Also, if you have a family history of glaucoma, you are at elevated risk.
- Angle closure glaucoma occurs when the iris blocks the drainage ducts. Because this can suddenly cut off fluid drainage, causing a dramatic increase in intraocular pressure and rapid damage to the optic nerve, it is sometimes called acute glaucoma. It requires emergency attention. It is more common in people who are farsighted, Asian-Americans, and women. Risk also increases with age. If you experience eye pain, halos, nausea and vomiting, and vision loss, you may be having an attack of acute glaucoma and should get emergency care.
- Secondary glaucoma is when clogging of the drainage angle is caused by something else, such as injury to the eye, eye cancer, cornea overgrowth, infection, or other causes. It can have effects similar to either open angle or angle closure glaucoma. Risk factors are related to the primary causes.
- Pediatric glaucoma is when children suffer glaucoma. Most commonly, a child is born with elevated intraocular pressure. This affects about 1 in 10,000 infants, and seems to be genetic.
- Normal tension glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve suffers damage without elevated intraocular pressure. This is more likely in people with a family history of glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, or Japanese ancestry.
Glaucoma treatment most often focuses on lowering intraocular pressure to prevent further optic nerve damage. When open angle glaucoma is detected early, eye drops can be used to maintain a normal eye pressure. Laser surgery can be used for either open or closed angle glaucoma. Filtering microsurgery and canaloplasty are also available to increase drainage and reduce intraocular pressure.
See Questions about Glaucoma for more information about the condition and treatment options.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma or have not been screened for the condition recently, please contact the Eye Surgery Center of Louisiana today to schedule a consultation at one of our New Orleans-area locations.