Conditions and Treatments
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States. Glaucoma, known as the "sneak thief of sight," can affect patients of all ages. Many people affected with glaucoma do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease until they have lost a significant amount of vision. With early detection and treatment, eyes can be protected against the serious loss of vision or blindness.
Glaucoma can affect anyone from newborn infants to the elderly. It has been estimated that up to 3 million Americans have glaucoma. At least half of those people do not know they have glaucoma because it usually has no symptoms.
Types of Glaucoma
There are several types of glaucoma with two main types: open-angle and angle-closure.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma where the fluid in the eye drains too slowly through the network of tiny drainage channels, known as the trabecula. The pressure in the eye increases as the fluid in the eye continues to build. Loss of vision occurs gradually and the vision loss is not always noticed until it becomes irreversible. About 95 percent of glaucoma cases are due to open-angle glaucoma.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the tiny drainage channels, known as the trabecula, become blocked which then causes a sudden rise in pressure in the eye. This condition is not common but when it occurs it requires immediate medical attention.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma. Those at greater risk meet the following criteria:
- Are at least 45 years old without regular eye exams
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have abnormally high eye pressure
- Are of African descent
- Are Hispanic and older than 60
- Are nearsighted
- Have thin corneas
- Have diabetes
- Have a previous eye injury
- Regularly use cortisone/steroid products
Diagnosis of Glaucoma
To detect glaucoma, Dr. Miranda will test your visual acuity and visual field and test the pressure in your eye. The latest technology in optic nerve imaging is also part of your initial evaluation. Regular and complete eye exams help to monitor the changes in your eyesight and to determine whether you may develop glaucoma.
Treatment of Glaucoma
Treatment to control glaucoma include medications in the form of either eye drops or pills, laser surgery and conventional surgery.
Prevention of Glaucoma
There is no way to prevent glaucoma from developing, however, the following suggestions may prevent glaucoma from progressing:
- Get regular comprehensive eye examinations
- Get an annual screening for glaucoma
- Follow the doctor's recommended treatment plan
- Make healthy lifestyle changes
- Protect eyes from injury
After losing some sight or experiencing low vision as a result of glaucoma, there are services and programs available that will help the patient lead a normal, independent life.