Glaucoma

Nearly 2.5 million people have glaucoma. Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief” because it quietly 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 the effects of glaucoma. 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 intraocular 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.

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:

Trabeculectomy

During a trabeculectomy procedure, a small amount of tissue is removed from the eye, allowing drainage to lower eye pressure. There is no implanted device in a trabeculectomy. A bleb, or fluid-containing blister, may form on the white part of your eye.

Laser Trabeculoplasty

Laser trabeculosplasty is a bladeless procedure that lowers pressure in the eye by opening the drainage angle of the eye. Like a regular trabeculectomy, nothing is implanted in the eye.

Laser Peripheral Iridotomy

A laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) is another simple outpatient procedure for patients with glaucoma or have a high risk for developing it. Our trained doctors direct a laser to gently put a hole in the eye’s iris. This iridotomy will allow pressures on both sides of the eye to equalize, reducing the chances of permanent vision loss. The entire procedure will only last about 10 minutes, but patients will need to stay for another 30 minutes to have their pressures checked.

Glaukos iStent

St. Cloud Eye Clinic continues to stay on the forefront of technology in eye care with the offering of the iStent, the first FDA-approved device that improves your eye’s natural fluid outflow to lower eye pressure. Proven gentle and effective, the iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA.

The iStent is placed in your eye during cataract surgery and is so small that you won’t be able to see or feel it after the procedure is over. The iStent is designed to create a permanent opening in your trabecular meshwork and works continuously to improve the outflow of fluid from your eyes to help control eye pressure.

Once implanted, the iStent will begin working to effectively to manage your eye pressure. It may help to reduce your dependency on glaucoma medications.

Ahmed Valve

An Ahmed Valve is a medical shunt used in the eye to control intraocular pressure (IOP). When surgically implanted in the eye, this device redirects fluid through a small tube and into a bleb to collect the fluid. The silicone shunt acts much like a garden hose that directs liquid away from where it can cause vision damage in the eye.

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.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

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.

Secondary Glaucoma

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.

Congenital Glaucoma

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:

  • Being 45 years or older
  • Increased eye pressure
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Being of 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.

For more information, call St. Cloud Eye Clinic at (320) 251‑1432, send us a message, or request an appointment.