Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve and gradually steals your vision. It usually has no symptoms in its early stages, but over time, and without treatment, can lead to gradual peripheral vision loss and blindness. The damage to the optic nerve most commonly occurs as a result of elevated pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old.
The good news is that with regular eye exams, early detection, and treatment, it is manageable and a patient’s vision can be preserved.
Glaucoma, often known as the “silent thief of sight,” typically presents no symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. This makes early detection through regular and complete eye exams an essential defense in maintaining ocular health. These exams should include measurements of eye pressure, thorough inspection of the eye’s optic nerve, and tests for peripheral (side) vision, all of which can help in identifying the early signs of glaucoma. Optometrists and ophthalmologists have specialized tests, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), to look for early glaucomatous damage to the optic nerve fibers. Those at higher risk, including individuals over 60, with a family history of glaucoma, of African or Hispanic heritage, or those with diabetes, should be particularly vigilant about frequent check-ups. Maintaining these routine screenings can lead to early management and treatment, which is crucial in preventing irreversible damage and potential blindness associated with advanced glaucoma.
It is imperative to meticulously adhere to your prescribed medication plan to maintain optimal eye pressure and avert the progression of vision loss. Regularly taking your glaucoma medication as directed plays a critical role in managing your condition and safeguarding your eyesight.
To effectively manage your glaucoma, it’s important to be well-informed about your condition, lead a healthy lifestyle, and stay well-organized. Develop a personalized routine that fits seamlessly into your life, ensuring you can consistently adhere to the treatment plan and check-up schedules necessary for managing this eye condition.
When managing glaucoma, surgery may come into the conversation, particularly if the condition is at an advanced stage or is progressing rapidly. The decision to move forward with a surgical intervention, such as laser treatment or conventional surgery, depends on a variety of factors including the severity of the disease, the rate of progression, and the response to other treatments. On the following page, we delve deeper into the types of glaucoma surgeries available, what patients can expect from these procedures, and how they can potentially preserve and protect vision. Understanding these surgical options is crucial for those whose condition may require more aggressive management to maintain their ocular health.