Glaucoma

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye conditions that cause increased pressure within the eye. This increased pressure can eventually damage the optic nerve, causing vision loss and even blindness. Glaucoma affects approximately 2% of the population over age 35, and is the 2nd leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The two most common types of glaucoma are:

  • Open angle glaucoma
  • Narrow angle glaucoma

Symptoms

Glaucoma symptoms vary by type. Open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma in the U.S. and usually presents with no symptoms. This is why it is called the "silent blinder" because you can lose vision and never know it. And the reason you can't tell is because glaucoma gradually steals your peripheral vision first which isn't noticeable with day-to-day activities. You would need an eye examination with visual field testing to know if you have glaucoma.

Angle closure glaucoma, on the other hand, is a medical emergency and requires quick diagnosis and treatment to prevent blindness. Symptoms of acute angle closure glaucoma include:

  • Severe eye and/or facial pain
  • Decreased or cloudy vision
  • Red eye
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Haloes with bright lights
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you are experiencing these symptoms, please call our office or go to the nearest Emergency Department.

Images via National Institutes of Health

Since open angle glaucoma rarely presents with symptoms, it is usually diagnosed during a routine eye exam. There are certain risk factors for glaucoma. If you have any of the following risk factors, be sure to have your eyes examined on a regular basis:

  • Over age 40
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes, anemia, or hardening of the arteries
  • People of African or Hispanic descent

Treatment

The doctors of Professional Eye Associates are highly experienced in the treatment of glaucoma, and regularly pursue education in the latest treatments and research available. Generally, glaucoma treatment is aimed at reducing the pressure within the eye. There are several options available, and may be used individually or in combination. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your doctor will evaluate your condition and make the best recommendation for you. Available treatments include:

  • Eye drops: Medication applied directly to the eye to reduce eye pressure by either increasing the eye's ability to drain or by decreasing the amount of fluid the eye produces.
  • Oral medication: Other medications that can reduce eye pressure are given orally (by mouth).
  • Surgery: Sometimes surgery is required to reduce the pressure within the eye. Surgery can be performed through traditional means or with the use of a laser.  There are a variety of surgical options. Your Professional Eye Associates eye surgeon will be able to give you the best recommendation.

More Information

For more information about glaucoma and your treatment options, please see our Glaucoma Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you live in the Northwest Georgia area, and are at risk for glaucoma, please contact us to schedule your eye exam. We will answer any questions you have, and we look forward to serving you.