What is Glaucoma?

  • Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve and is made up of many nerve fibers that carry visual information from your retinas in the back of the eye to the front of the eye, which your brain uses to form images, allowing you to see.
     

    • Glaucoma results from pressure on your optic nerve.

      • Your eyes contain a fluid called aqueous humor,
        which nourishes your corneas and regulates
        the pressure in the eye.

      • Aqueous humor drains through channels freely in the eye unless the drainage system becomes blocked.

      • If the aqueous builds up, then pressure is put on the optic nerve.

         

  • If glaucoma is untreated, the pressure gets worse and continues to damage your optic nerve. Eventually, the disease can lead to blindness. However, with early detection, glaucoma is highly treatable, and serious vision loss is usually preventable.

Risk factors for Glaucoma
 

  • Chronic forms of glaucoma can destroy vision before any signs or symptoms are apparent. 
    Be aware of these risk factors:

    • Being over age 60
       

    • Having a family history of glaucoma
       

    • Having certain medical conditions, such as:

      • Diabetes,

      • Heart disease,

      • High blood pressure and

      • Sickle cell anemia
         

    • Having corneas that are thin in the center
       

    • Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted
       

    • Having had an eye injury or certain types of eye surgery
       

    • Taking corticosteroid medications, especially eyedrops, for a long time
       

    • Having high internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure)
       

Symptoms of Glaucoma

  • Glaucoma develops slowly and only causes noticeable symptoms
    after it causes permanent, irreversible vision damage and
    is known for causing “silent loss of sight.”
     

     

  • Measuring the Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP) in the eyes
    and performing an imaging test called a
    Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
    of the Nerve Fiber Layer (NFL) are
    the most advanced technologies today
    to look for signs of optic nerve damage.

     

  • Glaucoma usually affects both eyes. In most cases, it affects peripheral (side) vision first, so people with advanced glaucoma may have clear central vision, but no side vision.
     

  • However, if not detected early to get the intraocular pressure under control, glaucoma can eventually damage central vision leading to blindness.

Preventive Measures for Glaucoma
 

  • These self-care steps can help you detect glaucoma in its early stages, which is important in preventing vision loss or slowing its progress.  
     

    • Get regular dilated eye examinations.
       

      • Regular comprehensive eye exams can help detect glaucoma in its early stages, before significant damage occurs.
         

      • Comprehensive eye exam annually for regular screenings.
         

      • If you're at risk of glaucoma, exams may be needed more frequent screening, usually every 3-6 months depending on severity.


         

    • Know your family's eye health history. 
       

      • Glaucoma tends to run in families.
         

      • If you're at increased risk, you may need more frequent screening.  
         

    • Regular, moderate exercise may help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure.  Meditation and yoga have been shown to lower intraocular pressure.
       

    • Wear eye protection. 
       

      • Serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma.
         

      • Wear eye protection when using power tools or
        playing high-speed racket sports in enclosed courts.

Treatment Options for Glaucoma

  • Take prescribed eyedrops regularly. 
     

    • If you have early-stage glaucoma, eyedrops can
      significantly reduce the risk that high eye pressure will progress to glaucoma.

       

    • To be effective, eyedrops prescribed by your
      doctor need to be used regularly
      even if you have no symptoms.  

       

    • If you have moderate or more severe glaucoma,  
      opening the drainage channels through
      laser treatments or with now FDA-approved
      Brimatoprost SR (Sustained Release) injection
      may be needed. 



       

  • These options can relieve some of the pressure in your eye by reducing fluid production or helping the fluid in your eye drain more easily. Though you can’t regain the vision you’ve already lost, this can prevent the pressure (and your vision) from getting worse.
     

Make an appointment for an eye exam with Dr. Nanda at the Nanda Dry Eye and Vision Institute at 832-966-0660  if you notice any changes in your vision.

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