Protecting Your Vision with Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatments


Overview

Glaucoma is a progressive disease that causes damage to the optic nerves. Without treatment, glaucoma can lead to complete vision loss. Because this disease may not exhibit symptoms until it has reached advanced stages, it is important to undergo regular eye exams. At Broberg Eye Care, Dr. Peter BrobergDr. Halsey SettleDr. William McGlathery, and Dr. Ximena de Sabra offer glaucoma screenings and treatment to keep you in optimal ocular health.

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Causes of Glaucoma

Glaucoma causes damage to the optical nerves due to a buildup of pressure in the eye. This pressure increases when there is excess fluid (called aqueous humour) within the eye, which should naturally flow out. If there is a blockage and fluid builds up, eye pressure can increase. While the exact cause of this blockage is not known, we do know that glaucoma can be inherited. Patients with diabetes are also more likely to develop glaucoma. In rare instances, glaucoma can also be caused by injury or infection, or as a result of eye surgery.

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Glaucoma Symptoms

It is very common for patients who suffer from glaucoma to experience little or no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Often, if symptoms are experienced, the disease has already progressed significantly. As eye pressure within the eye builds, patients may experience loss of peripheral vision, eye pain, blurry vision, and more. Any changes in vision should be reported to our doctors immediately, so that we can perform a comprehensive eye exam.

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An image showing what the symptoms of glaucoma may look like

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Open-angle is characterized by a slow onset of symptoms, caused by a gradual clogging of the drainage canals. By far the more common form of the disease, open-angle glaucoma accounts for about 90 percent of all cases. Closed-angle glaucoma is caused by a blocked drainage canal, resulting in a sudden increase in intraocular pressure and related symptoms; closed-angle glaucoma requires immediate medical attention.

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Glaucoma Diagnosis

Glaucoma can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam, which is why it is so important to attend regular vision screenings, especially for patients over the age of 50. Early detection of the disease can slow its onset and minimize symptoms. As with nearly any medical condition, early intervention with moderate treatment is preferable to more aggressive therapy. 

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Treatment for Glaucoma

The most appropriate form of treatment depends on how advanced the disease has become, and if the patient has open- or closed-angle glaucoma. Generally, we will begin with a conservative treatment such as eye drops, and then consider more aggressive treatment if the disease progresses. Eye drops are a great front-line therapy; they can reduce the formation of fluid in the eye or increase the outflow of fluid. Selective laser trabeculoplasty is reserved for more severe cases and uses a low-level laser to make alterations to the trabecular meshwork of the eye, allowing fluid to drain more effectively.

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