Early Detection and Treatment of Glaucoma
Some people take the pleasure of reading a book or stepping off a curb safely for granted. When you start to lose your vision, these once-routine occurrences become increasingly impossible. As you gaze out the window in an indistinguishable blur, the thought of facing life without your sight becomes an intolerable proposition.
More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in this country. With early detection and treatment, most patients can prevent the loss of sight from glaucoma.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is damaged after a buildup of fluid and pressure inside the eye. Many patients do not experience symptoms, but the earliest sign of glaucoma is often elevated intraocular pressure. Sometimes, even so-called normal pressure can harm the optic nerve.
Most Common Types: Open-Angle and Angle-Closure
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common types of glaucoma are primary open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma. The signs and symptoms follow:
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
● Gradual loss of peripheral vision
● Tunnel vision
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
● Blurred vision
● Eye pain
● Eye reddening
● Halos around lights
● Nausea and vomiting
● Sudden visual disturbance
Detection: Digital Cameras and Computerized Analyzers
Detection of glaucoma depends on identifying a change in the shape of the optic nerve. In addition, glaucoma patients experience a loss of parts of their field of vision. At Eastside Eye Associates/Tribeca Eye Physicians, a special digital camera records any changes in optic nerve shape. Two computerized analyzers detect the earliest sign of visual field loss.
Eye drops lowering intraocular pressure generally control glaucoma and prevent vision loss. However, laser treatment is sometimes needed if those are not effective. In the unusual situation when these methods don’t work, patients may need eye surgery for glaucoma.
New Advanced Treatments
Eastside Eye Associates was among the first in Manhattan to perform an innovative laser treatment using selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) to reduce intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma. SLT has been proven effective in clinical studies.
The following are some of the pluses of this treatment:
● Thousands of SLT treatments have been successfully performed.
● SLT provides a safe alternative to daily eye drop medications, which can be costly and associated with side effects.
● SLT is effective as a first line therapy, replacement therapy or supplemental therapy.
We advise a yearly check up for most patients older than age 50 or younger patients with a strong family history of glaucoma. African Americans and Hispanic Americans have a four-fold increased risk of developing glaucoma and should be checked yearly after age 35.
The following are other important steps:
● Regular glaucoma eye drops, even if you don’t have symptoms
● Healthy diet for overall health
● Eye protection while using power tools, playing sports or spending time outside
The experienced ophthalmologists and optometrists at East Side Eye Associates (212-861-6200) and Tribeca Eye Associates (212-693-7200) specialize in all of these conditions. To improve your vision while you work at your computer, call us now.