There are numerous vision problems that people face that can affect their overall quality of life. Some of these issues are generally minor and can be treated with relative ease, such as refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism) and cataracts. Other eye care issues may involve advanced therapies and invasive treatments simply to maintain basic vision or to slow down the rate of vision loss/degradation.
Right now, we'd like to turn our attention to a serious vision problem that can lead to total blindness if not caught and treated: glaucoma.
Sometimes referred to as the "silent thief of sight," glaucoma is a health issue that involves pressure within the eye itself. When this intraocular pressure becomes too severe, it begins to cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve. This causes gradual loss of vision.
In many cases, glaucoma does not happen until later in a person's life. Glaucoma is incurable, but effective treatment can maintain current vision or slow the rate at which a person loses their vision.
Causes of Glaucoma
The most common causes of glaucoma include:
- Advanced age
Eye injury, hypertension, high myopia, and issues with corneal thickness can increase a person's risk of developing glaucoma as well.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Some of the common symptoms of glaucoma include:
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision
- Blurred vision
- Tunnel vision
- Eye pain
- Redness of the eyes
- Issues with vision in low-light situations
These symptoms can sometimes be so gradual that they are difficult to detect, which is why regular eye exams are crucial.
Early Detection is Key to Optimal Care
One of the ways to reduce the damage caused by glaucoma once it begins is to catch it early. During eye exams, ophthalmologists will run diagnostics to measure the internal pressure of your eyes and to assess any changes to your vision that may be a warning sign of glaucoma.
Non-surgical Treatments for Glaucoma
Ideally eye care experts want to work as conservatively as possible when treating glaucoma. This means using medications before surgery and seeing how patients react to such treatment.
The use of oral medications and eyedrops are common for reducing the intraocular pressure caused by galucoma. The types of medications can vary, but it's important that patients carefully follow all instructions pertaining to any prescribed medicines.
Surgical Treatments for Glaucoma
If patients do not respond to medication for glaucoma alone, surgical treatments will be considered. It is not uncommon for surgical procedures to be performed in conjunction with non-surgical medications.
Some of the surgical options that may be performed include:
- Laser surgery to promote drainage and reduction of intraocular pressure
- Trabeculectomy for drainage of excess eye fluid
- Periodic drainage and replacement of the aqueous humor
The best option for you and your needs will be discussed during the consultation process. You will also receive detailed information on each surgical option as well as the risks and benefits that are involved.
Learn More About Advanced Eye Care Treatments
For more information about treating glaucoma as well as your many options for early detection and prevention, be sure to contact our Monterey and Salinas eye care centers today. Our entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve optimal vision health and wellness.