Nearly two and a half million people have glaucoma. Glaucoma is known as the “silent-thief” because it silently steals your vision, often without warning signs or symptoms. In fact, nearly half of those with glaucoma are not even aware that they have the disease. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and the leading cause of preventable blindness. Yearly eye exams are your first line of defense against glaucoma’s effects. If you are found to have glaucoma, our doctors can provide you with the most advanced and up-to-date treatment options.
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve and causes vision loss. Like a cable wire, the optic nerve is responsible for carrying the images we see to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve can occur when pressure within the eye increases, usually due to a build-up of aqueous fluid inside the eye. This leads to the development of blind spots in our field of vision. However, damage may occur without elevation of the intra-ocular pressure. Blind spots in the field of vision usually go undetected by the individual until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and a great loss of peripheral or central vision has occurred. Conversely, the pressure may at times be elevated without damaging the optic nerve. This is a condition known as Ocular Hypertension.
Our doctors are some of a select few doctors providing the iStent® Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent as a treatment option to reduce eye pressure for patients with both cataracts and glaucoma. (Read more about this important advance here.)
Glaucoma Treatment Options
St. Cloud Eye Clinic offers a variety of treatment options to slow the advance of glaucoma and to prevent further damage. Your doctor will determine the best method or methods of treatment based on your eyes. Some of the options available include:
Types of Glaucoma
Not every type of Glaucoma is the same, nor will it have the same impact on your life. If you have been diagnosed with Glaucoma please make sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of glaucoma listed below. If you have more questions about Glaucoma, our team will be happy to provide additional information regarding your specific type of glaucoma and what this will mean for your life.
Chronic open-angle glaucoma:
This is the most common type of glaucoma. The drainage angle, where the fluids in the eye drain, is open, but is not working efficiently. This inability to drain causes pressure within the eye to rise, which results in a gradual loss of peripheral vision.
This type of glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle is completely blocked. This prevents any fluid from draining from the eye and causes the pressure within the eye to suddenly rise. This extreme rise in pressure causes issues such as blurred vision, headaches, severe eye pain and the appearance of halos around lights.
Chronic angle-closure glaucoma:
This describes a more gradual closing of the drainage angle, which occurs most frequently in people of Asian descent.
This type of glaucoma progresses very much like chronic open-angle glaucoma. It occurs as a result of some other eye issue (such as an eye injury) and occurs when scar tissue blocks the drainage angle. The first symptom is loss of peripheral vision.
This is a birth defect which affects the drainage angle. To prevent blindness, this condition must be treated shortly after birth. Symptoms include enlarged eyes, a cloudy cornea, light sensitivity and excessive tearing.
Who is at risk for Glaucoma?
Since glaucoma can affect anyone, it is important to receive regular comprehensive eye examinations. While everyone may be at risk for glaucoma, there are certain factors that can increase your risk of glaucoma. They are:
- 45 years or older
- Increased eye pressure
- Family history of glaucoma
- Severe nearsightedness
- African-American, Hispanic or Asian descent
- History of eye injury causing bleeding in the eye
Regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist are the only way to detect glaucoma. Depending on your age, the frequency of glaucoma exams should be as follows:
- 40 and under: once every three years
- 40-65: once every two years
- 65 and older: every year
Symptoms of Glaucoma
In the early stages of glaucoma there are no symptoms, which is why it is important that you visit your eye doctor regularly. As glaucoma progresses it is possible that you will experience a loss of vision. Once this damage is noticeable it is usually severe and is almost impossible to reverse. Certain symptoms, including intermittent pain, blurred vision or seeing colored rings around lights may indicate glaucoma. If you experience any of those symptoms, or any sudden and severe eye pain or loss of vision, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.