Glaucoma Management and Surgery
Glaucoma is a very common disease that affects about 2% of the population over the age of 65. It also occurs in younger age groups, but with less frequency. Glaucoma is a disorder of the optic nerve associated with elevated intraocular pressures, changes in the appearance of the optic nerve head, and visual field (peripheral vision) defects.
When the eye pressure is too high for your eye, it puts pressure on the optic nerve, causing damage to the optic nerve slowly causing vision loss. Vision loss starts on the outside of the peripheral vision, making things look fuzzy around the edges. If open-angle glaucoma goes untreated, the fuzzy edges slowly close in until the entire visual field is black.
While the causes of glaucoma are still unknown, high intraocular pressure is treatable. Medicines usually in the form of eye drops can lower eye pressure. Glaucoma can also be treated with laser treatment. Surgery is usually used as a last resort after other therapies have failed.
Glaucoma can’t be cured. The goal of therapy is to control the disease so that vision is stabilized. Control involves reducing intraocular pressure down to a level tolerated by your eye, with stable pressures, stable visual fields, and stable appearance of the optic nerve head. This is why patients with glaucoma should be reexamined every 3-6 months for the rest of their lives.
Family history is also a risk factor for developing glaucoma. Patients who have a positive family history of glaucoma should have eye exams performed every 2 years.
With careful exams and good patient cooperation, the outlook is bright for almost all patients with this disease.