Glaucoma

Understanding Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition that causes an increase in eye pressure, leading to permanent damage to the optic nerve. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, our professionals at North Bay Eye Associates can create a treatment plan to slow the progression of the disease, which can preserve your vision longer.

Glaucoma

Two Types of Glaucoma

There are two types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common. It occurs when the fluid in your eyes cannot drain properly, similar to a slow drain. When the fluid cannot drain, it causes an increase in eye pressure. Angle-close glaucoma is less common and more serious. It occurs when the fluid cannot drain from the eye at all, causing a rapid spike in eye pressure.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Anyone can develop glaucoma. However, certain factors can increase your risk of getting this disease, including:

  • Being over 60 years old
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted
  • Previous eye injury or eye surgery
  • Medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sickle cell anemia
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, particularly eye drops

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma causes no symptoms in the early stages. However, as the disease progresses, it causes loss of peripheral vision. In the advanced stages, open-angle glaucoma can cause tunnel vision and blindness. Angle-closure glaucoma causes severe symptoms early due to the rapid increase in eye pressure. The symptoms may include:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Redness of the eye
  • Nausea and vomiting

Both types of glaucoma can lead to blindness if left untreated. Even with treatment, 15 percent of patients lose vision in one eye within 20 years after the disease begins.

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Glaucoma can be detected during an annual eye exam. During your exam, our eye doctors will perform a tonometry test, which assesses the pressure in your eye. If your eye pressure is elevated, we will conduct further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

  • A gonioscopy test can inspect the drainage angle
  • A pachymetry test can measure corneal thickness
  • Visual field tests can detect areas of vision loss

Treating Glaucoma

In the early stages, our optometrists will keep an eye on the progression of your condition. We may also prescribe eye drops to keep the pressure in your eyes down. As the disease progresses, there are more aggressive treatments designed to preserve your vision, including:

  • Laser trabeculoplasty is a laser surgical procedure an ophthalmologist can perform to open the clogged channels that prevent the fluid from draining
  • Filtering surgery involves putting a small incision in the white of your eye to remove the trabecular meshwork that is preventing the fluid from draining
  • Draining tubes can be inserted to drain the excess fluid, reducing the pressure in your eyes.

Contact Us for Your Next Eye Exam in Healdsburg, Petaluma, Sonoma, or Santa Rosa, CA

Because glaucoma shows no early signs, annual visits with our team at North Bay Eye Associates are essential. Our eye doctors treat patients in Healdsburg, Petaluma, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and the surrounding areas. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about how we can help your eye and vision care, give us a call today.

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