Glaucoma is defined as a group of eye conditions resulting in overall damage of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the major nerve of vision; it receives light and transmits behavior from your eyes to your brain. Patients with glaucoma are losing the fibers in their optic nerve that will unfortunately never return. Glaucoma is important because in general, most people do not know they have it. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to severe vision impairment and eventually blindness.
Most often, glaucoma is caused by pressure inside the eye resulting in damage of the optic nerve. The pressure comes from an excess of fluid, known as aqueous humor. The fluid will stop flowing as it normally should signaling issues with the drainage. This liquid will build up and put pressure within the eye causing glaucoma.
Glaucoma has also been said to be caused by injuries to the eye and abnormal blood vessel formation. Although there are other classifications of different types of glaucoma, ultimately damage to the optic nerve is the general cause. The reason glaucoma is a threatening disease is because of the role the optic nerve plays not only to your eye but your entire body. Brain signals obstructed from glaucoma can by severely damaging.
Typically loss of peripheral (side vision) is the first sign on glaucoma. Vision will gradually decrease with what seems like “black borders” around everything you see. Tunnel vision will occur if the condition in those who are in more severe stages of the condition as well. Generally, symptoms of glaucoma will be a loss of sight.
Other noted symptoms include blurred vision, halos from lights, pressure pain in the eyes, and redness. These conditions are not always common but have been noted in numerous glaucoma patients.
The first and most often suggested treatment for glaucoma is using eye drops to lower the pressure in your eyes. There are a variety of different eye drops that can be used, and based on the specifics of your condition, your doctor will suggest which drops will likely be most effective.
Glaucoma has no identifiable cure. The condition has solutions that will improve vision and prevent vision loss in patients who have newly developed the condition. For others, glaucoma may be at a stage where vision impairment is inevitable, but drops can be issued to prevent greater loss in vision.
Ophthalmologists will often suggest surgery to patients who cannot seem to have no positive reaction in using non-surgical treatments. These conditions are performed in different ways but ultimately have the same goal; to release pressure in the optic nerve that is causing glaucoma. Procedures include:
- ALT / SLT laser: Laser surgery is used treat by a drain of the eye. ATL and SLT are used to help fluids flow, causing less pressure.
- Trabeculectomy: This is the most commonly performed treatment for glaucoma. In trabeculectomy, drainage of the humor is in place to release pressure. A "flap" is created to drain the fluid, later closed up with sutures.
- Mini Shunt Placement: This is a newer procedure being practiced for glaucoma since 2002. After an opening is made in the sclera, fluid is able to drain out of the eye. The mini-shun is inserted and fluid is able to flow through it. This will create a blister under the eye, which is then absorbed by the body.
- Valve Placement: A valve placement is similar to the mini-shunt placement, and is often used to treat glaucoma. Because mini-shunt is still a new procedure, many surgeons will use the classic valve placement procedure.
These treatments for glaucoma have showed to be incredibly successful for long term relief. Surgical practices are designed to alleviate the stress that is placed on the optic nerve and further prevent it from worsening over time. Most surgical procedures minimally invasive, effective, and done in no time at all.
The ophthalmologists at West Medical are dedicated to understanding and assessing your case of glaucoma to figure out which method is right for you. We offer a number of different minimally invasive procedures and we're dedicated to providing you with the best experience possible.
For more information about Glaucoma, treatment options and figuring out which surgical treatment is best for you, call West Medical at (855) 690-0565 today. We're here to help!
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