What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and there are an estimated six million cases worldwide.
Glaucoma occurs when eye pressure increases and creates stress on the optic nerve. If the nerve is damaged, vision loss occurs. In most cases, glaucoma causes no pain and creates no other symptoms until vision loss becomes noticeable. Because there are no symptoms, regular eye exams are crucial to maintaining eye health.
Open-angle glaucoma (OAG) is the most common form in America. It has no initial symptoms and primarily affects people over the age of 50.
Acute closed-angle glaucoma is the result of a sudden blockage in the flow of fluid between the iris and the lens. Symptoms include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and seeing a rainbow halo around lights.
Most glaucoma is diagnosed through a routine pressure check during a comprehensive eye exam. Regular eye exams can help diagnose OAG early, and early diagnosis is imperative to prevent vision loss from the condition.
Medicated eye drops are the most common method of reducing intraocular pressure. While eye drops are effective for many people, the treatment routine can be complicated, so it is imperative to follow the instructions provided by your doctor.
While glaucoma is often treated with medicated eye drops, surgery sometimes becomes necessary. Glaucoma surgeries allow fluid to flow out of the eye more easily, thereby decreasing pressure.
A trabeculectomy removes part of the trabeculum in the eye to reduce pressure
caused by glaucoma. Trabeculectomy is used to treat open-angle glaucoma and
chronic closed-angle glaucoma.
Selective laser trabeculoplasty
To treat open-angle glaucoma we perform selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), a procedure that uses a low-level energy laser to target specific cells in the eye’s drainage channels. This stimulates your eye’s draining function, easing the buildup of pressure from fluid. SLT is an outpatient procedure that generally requires one follow-up exam.
Laser peripheral iridotomy
For closed-angle glaucoma, your doctor may suggest a laser peripheral iridotomy. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an opening in the iris which allows fluid to flow between the front of the eye and the area behind the iris.
For patients with both glaucoma and cataracts, iStent safely lowers eye pressure by creating a permanent opening to improve your eye’s natural fluid outflow. iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA. It is placed in your eye during cataract surgery and is so small that you won’t be able to see or feel it after the procedure is over.