Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the US in people over 60 years old.
It is a condition that subtly damages the optic nerve, which is the nerve that transmits images to the brain. Once the nerve is fully damaged, the eye can no longer see. This damage first causes blind spots to develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until more severe damage has occurred.
The best way to determine if you have glaucoma is by getting a dilated eye exam from a skilled professional. Click here to set up an appointment with one of our experts.
We do not clearly understand the cause of glaucoma.
High eye pressure is a risk factor but is not the root cause. In fact, some people with glaucoma have low pressures. Several theories exist on the cause, including problems with the blood supply to the nerve, inherent weakness of the nerve, and programmed cell death (called apoptosis).
The older a person is, the more likely glaucoma is to occur. Race also plays a role. African Americans and Hispanics are also at an increased risk. Family history matters. Those with a parent or sibling with glaucoma are at higher risk. Other risk factors include diabetes and previous significant injuries to an eye.
Current guidelines recommend that you should be screened by an ophthalmologist routinely if any of the following apply to you:
- You have a parent or sibling who was diagnosed with glaucoma.
- You are an African American over age 50.
- You are a Latin American over age 65.
- You have diabetes.
Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief of vision."
Most people with glaucoma don’t have any symptoms for the first 95% of the disease process. In fact, it is believed that there are about 1.4 million people in the US who have glaucoma but are completely unaware.
Once someone notices their vision has changed, the glaucoma is usually very advanced and can be difficult to treat. Early detection and treatment is by far the best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. Make an appointment to get screened today.
Early diagnosis and treatment is key to having the best outcome. Glaucoma treatments are focused on lowering and stabilizing eye pressure. There have recently been several new advances in treatment. These include:
- eye drops
- minimally invasive procedures (or MIGS procedures)
- traditional glaucoma surgeries
Sometimes a combination of these treatments is required. Read more about the different types of glaucoma treatment below.
SLT laser is used around the world as a first-line treatment for glaucoma.
It is FDA approved, is covered by insurance, and has a long track record of safety and success. The laser is used to gently wake up the drainage structures of the eye, thereby lowering the eye pressure.
The treatment takes about three minutes to perform in the clinic, is painless, and the results last for two to five years. Retreatment can be done if needed.
If you use a glaucoma drop daily and would like to stop, SLT could be a great option for you. Schedule a consultation for SLT laser today.
Prescription drops may also be an effective way to treat glaucoma.
They require daily administration. To prevent glaucoma from progressing it is important to remember to consistently place them as your doctor recommends. If you are using more than one glaucoma medicine be sure to space them apart by at least 3 minutes, or it will just wash the previous drop out.
Micro-invasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS) are effective and significantly safer procedures than traditional glaucoma surgery (read more below).
They are FDA-approved and covered by insurance. MIGS typically take about 5 minutes or less to perform. They can be done at the same time as cataract surgery or as a stand-alone procedure.
Our surgeons are trained to perform several different types of MIGS procedures. We can make a recommendation to you regarding which MIGS procedure is most appropriate for your situation.
MIGS are a great way to eliminate the need for using drops. The average person getting a MIGS can get off of two or more drops. Some of the common MIGS procedures we do include iStent Inject®, Kahook Dual Blade®, and the OMNI Procedure®.
These surgeries are generally reserved for the most serious of glaucoma cases. They are also sometimes used for specific more rare forms of glaucoma.
Recovery and the postoperative course typically requires closer monitoring. Our surgeons can recommend the right course of action for you to take.
Deciding between treatment options is hard. It's really hard. That's why we have a team of counselors to help you weigh your options and choose which surgery or treatment is best for you. After you meet with one of our eye doctors, you'll sit down with one of our counselors, Andrew, Andrea, or Isabella, and they will walk you through your doctor's recommendations. Sometimes there are several options to choose between, and your counselor will show you what to expect from each and help you make a decision. Schedule a consultation with our counselors today!