Glaucoma is known as the silent thief of vision because there are little to no symptoms. The vision that is first impacted is our peripheral vision, which we aren’t dependent upon. Unfortunately, many people will experience irreversible damage to their vision less before being diagnosed with glaucoma.
Wilmington Eye strongly recommends anyone who has a family history of glaucoma, is Hispanic or African American, or over the age of 60 to see an optometrist. Early detection of glaucoma is the essential to minimize the amount of vision loss a person experiences.
A few tests that we perform to diagnose glaucoma include:
- Visual Acuity
- Visual Field
A number of patients ask why we advise certain tests, such as Visual Fields or optic nerve imaging, HRT/OCT, on a regular basis. These tests are done on individuals who are either at risk for glaucoma or who have already been diagnosed with glaucoma. They effectively measure the pressure and health of your optic nerve. Frequent testing will be essential to detect and treat vision loss or optic nerve damage before it affects a person’s life and becomes permanent.
The visual field test detects unnoticed side (peripheral) vision loss before it affects a person’s daily life. This test may need to be repeated every 3 to 12 months depending on your risk of developing vision loss as determined by your optometrist.
The optic nerve is the part of the eye damaged by glaucoma. Photographing or examining the optic nerve with the HRT/OCT computer at regular intervals allows your optometrist to detect early damage to the optic nerve.
Untreated glaucoma can cause optic nerve damage and loss of peripheral vision that can result in blindness. These tests are some of the ways that we help to detect, monitor and manage this disease. If any of these tests show abnormalities, your optometrist can then start or modify treatment to prevent further damage and loss of vision.
It is important to remember that in diseases like glaucoma, early identification and treatment is important.
Any associated loss of vision from glaucoma is permanent; it cannot be recovered later. Therefore, cooperating with your doctor’s recommendation for treatment once glaucoma is detected can help to maintain your healthy vision.
Glaucoma is commonly managed by medication in the form of eyedrops. These medications are used to treat elevated pressure inside the eye and can be effective in delaying the onset of glaucoma.
When used as directed by your eye doctor, eyedrops can help to lower your eye pressure. Some do this by reducing the amount of fluid (called aqueous fluid) your eye makes, while others help fluid better flow through your drainage angle. They can be prescribed to be used at various times during the day depending on the type. It’s important to be compliant with your medication by following the prescribed medication schedule that your eye doctor gives you. Compliance is extremely important and while frequently using drops may seem simple enough, it is often difficult for patients to apply the drops correctly. A how-to video and several tips to properly administer glaucoma medications can be seen below.
Some common treatments for glaucoma include:
- LPI (Laser Peripheral Iridotomy)
- ALT (Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty)
- SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty)
- Conventional or Incisional Surgery
If necessary, your physician may recommend glaucoma surgery, and in some cases, you will continue to use glaucoma medications even after these procedures. Learn more about glaucoma surgery provided by our board-certified ophthalmologists.