By Dr. Mark Jacobs, Associates in Eye Care of Somerset
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases, but they all cause a loss of the fibers in the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The damage is most often caused by elevated pressure in the eye, but is also possible to have glaucoma with normal eye pressures.
What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?
In most cases of glaucoma, there are no symptoms until the very end stages of the disease. That is the reason it is sometimes called the “silent stealer of sight”. Glaucoma causes loss of the peripheral, or side, vision first before ultimately taking central vision if not properly treated. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have regular
eye exams, even if you think your current glasses are OK or even if you don’t need glasses or contacts.
There is a type of glaucoma, called angle closure glaucoma, that will cause severe eye and brow pain, foggy vision, redness of the eye, and even vomiting. This is an ocular emergency and requires treatment within hours of onset to preserve sight.
How do you test for glaucoma?
At every comprehensive eye exam, we will measure the pressure of
the eye and do a careful examination of the optic nerve through a
dilated pupil. If either the pressure is elevated above normal and/or
the optic nerve has an appearance possibly indicative of glaucoma, we
will order further testing and imaging to measure the peripheral vision, the ocular drainage system, and the thickness of the nerve fiber layer in the retina. In most cases, we will repeat the tests after a period of several months to monitor for changes that would indicate a need for treatment.
How do you treat Glaucoma?
Most patients with glaucoma are treated with a single eye drop used
nightly. In those cases where that is not sufficient, we can add
additional drops or perform a laser treatment in our office called SLT. In rare cases, it is required that the patient be sent for more extensive surgical procedures, but again, that is not often required.
Generally, glaucoma patients are seen every 3-4 months to monitor
What is the prognosis for people with Glaucoma?
Worldwide, glaucoma is among the three leading causes of blindness.
Untreated, most glaucoma patients would go blind within 10-15 years
of developing the condition. Thankfully, with proper treatment and
monitoring, most patients never notice any vision loss or other