If you or someone you love has recently received a diagnosis of glaucoma, you may have many questions. At Dakota Eye Institute, our ophthalmologists are experts at treating glaucoma and other conditions.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that increases intraocular pressure (IOP). When the pressure in the eye increases, it leads to permanent damage to the optic nerve.
Your eyes constantly produce a fluid known as aqueous humor. At the same time, an equal amount of this fluid drains out through the drainage angle to ensure optimal pressure.
If the drainage angle is blocked, the aqueous can’t move out fast enough, resulting in pressure building up in the eyes. Too much pressure destroys the optic nerve, leading to glaucoma.
You can also develop glaucoma even when your IOP is normal. If left untreated, glaucoma leads to blindness.
Sometimes, your IOP can rise considerably fast, damaging the optic nerve over a short period. Other times, your eye pressure will increase gradually over the years before optic nerve damage causes vision loss.
Only a qualified eye doctor can detect the early signs of glaucoma during a comprehensive eye exam and prevent or slow severe vision loss.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
The symptoms and signs of glaucoma include:
- Red eyes
- High eye pressure
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots
- Pain in the eyes that’s sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting
Typically, signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of glaucoma and the severity of your condition.
Risk Factors of Glaucoma
There are instances where the cause of glaucoma is not known. Elevated eye pressure can stem from several things, including:
- Underlying conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
- Frequent use of steroid medications
- Having very thin corneas
- Eye injury
- Extreme farsightedness or nearsightedness
- Family history of glaucoma
- If you’re age 60 and above
It’s important to note that although glaucoma typically happens later in life, it can still occur at any age.
Can You Prevent Glaucoma?
It’s impossible to prevent glaucoma. However, if it’s caught early, you can start treatment as soon as possible to prevent or slow it from worsening and causing vision loss. The best way to detect this eye condition is by scheduling routine eye examinations.
When treating glaucoma, the two main goals are: bringing the intraocular pressure down and stopping or slowing down additional vision loss. Usually, your eye doctor will start by prescribing eye drops that help lower your eye pressure levels.
If those don’t succeed in reducing your IOP, your ophthalmologist may give you oral medications or a combination of pills and drops. Other treatments available for glaucoma at Dakota Eye Institute include:
During laser treatment, your eye doctor will use a laser that produces intense light. The laser is gently aimed at your eye to open blockages and improve the flow of the aqueous humor in the eye.
If a slow or blocked drainage angle is responsible for elevated IOP, your eye doctor might suggest surgery. This aids in creating a new channel for the aqueous to drain more easily.
Alternatively, the surgery may destroy tissues that emit fluid to reduce production and stabilize pressure. While both procedures won’t cure vision loss due to glaucoma, they can lower high eye pressure.
Best in Class Eye Care Specialists
Eye damage from glaucoma is permanent and irreversible. Our team of ophthalmologists, optometrists, and nurse practitioners at Dakota Eye Institute are trained and experienced in the most advanced diagnosis and treatment methods for glaucoma patients.
We aim to detect glaucoma and address the vision-threatening condition in its earliest stage using sophisticated diagnostic testing.
Do you suspect you may have glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at Dakota Eye Institute in Bismarck, ND, for an accurate diagnosis!