Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). Most cases of glaucoma are caused by your eye being unable to drain fluid effectively. As pressure builds within the eye it can lead to complications, most commonly damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is dangerous because it damages the eye slowly and shows few to no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage.
Glaucoma seems to be at least partially hereditary, but research is still ongoing into how your risk is affected by family history. Glaucoma within your family does not guarantee you will develop the condition, but it is an important risk factor you should discuss with your doctor.
There a number of risk factors you should be aware of regarding your risk of glaucoma:
- African, Latino or Asian descent
- Family history of the disease
- Age over 40
- Steroid use
- Previous eye injury
Regular eye exams will help to prevent the acceleration of glaucoma into advanced stages. Nearly all eye exams now include an IOP check. Talk with your doctor to ensure your exams include an IOP check, or come to Center For Sight, where every examination includes testing for glaucoma risk factors.
Early detection is often the only thing standing between you and the vision loss caused by glaucoma.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a comprehensive eye exam for adults over the age of 40 every five years. Patients over 60 should be screened every year.
Treatment options vary based on a number of factors. Many people can treat their glaucoma through the use of medication and medicated eye drops. These work by either helping to open the drainage pathways within your eyes or by decreasing the amount of internal eye fluid your eyes produce. In addition, there is a multitude of surgical options that can help. Most glaucoma surgery is now completed using a laser, but in severe cases, traditional surgery may be required.
New Glaucoma Treatment Options
There are also a number of ocular implants that can now be used to provide glaucoma relief. These often decrease or eliminate the need for medicated eye drops. Ask your Center For Sight ophthalmologist if iStent® or Hydrus Microstent® could help you reduce your need for glaucoma medication.
iStent is a small intraocular stent that is intended to be placed during cataract surgery. It works by creating a small passage that allows for the inner eye fluid to drain out of the eye. This makes the pressure of your inner eye decrease in a way similar to how your eye manages pressure naturally.
Hydrus Microstent is designed to reduce eye pressure in adult patients with mild to moderate primary open-angle glaucoma. It works by acting as a support structure in one part of the natural drainage pathway of the eye and can be placed at the time of cataract surgery.
Talking with your doctor will help you determine what option is best for your eyes.