Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in America, primarily affecting people over the age of 40. It develops without warning and is often called the silent thief of sight. Glaucoma is a specific pattern of optic nerve damage and visual field loss. When symptoms are present, they include gradual loss of peripheral vision and blurred vision.
Clear liquid, call the aqueous humor, circulates inside the front portion of the eye. A small amount of this fluid is produced constantly, and an equal amount flows out of the eye through a microscopic drainage system, maintaining a constant level of pressure within the eye. (This liquid is not part of the tears on the outer surface of the eye.) If the drainage area becomes blocked, the excess fluid cannot flow and pressure within the eye increases, pushing against the optic nerve and potentially causing damage.
The most important risk factors for glaucoma include age, family history, African ancestry, nearsightedness, past eye injuries and diabetes.
Thanks to new technology, Dr. Smith can detect glaucoma quickly and painlessly using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). This test generates a precise and comprehensive analysis of the optic nerve for early detection and follow-up in a matter of seconds.
During your glaucoma evaluation, Dr. Smith will measure your intraocular pressure (tonometry), inspect the drainage angle of your eye (gonioscopy), evaluate whether or not there is any optic nerve damage (ophthalmoscopy), and test the peripheral vision of each eye (visual field testing).
As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eyedrops, laser treatment and surgery are all used to help prevent further damage. Oral medications may also be prescribed. The key is to detect glaucoma as early as possible.