See and be Seen
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Though highly treatable in its early stages, most cases of glaucoma aren’t diagnosed until it’s too late.
Roughly 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and half don’t know it. It’s a disease that progresses slowly, often without any symptoms. Over time, it gradually steals our eyesight. That’s why it’s so important to be screened for glaucoma during your regular eye exams.
The eye receives its nourishment from a clear fluid that circulates inside the eye. This fluid must be constantly returned to the bloodstream through the eye’s drainage canal, called the trabecular meshwork. When something goes wrong with the drainage canal and the fluid cannot drain fast enough, the pressure inside the eye begins to build. This pressure is known as glaucoma.
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve—the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. If your vision seems blurry, contains blank spots, or if you have eye pain or see rainbow-colored halos around lights, contact EYE-Q right away. Early detection and treatment can often prevent vision loss.
While congenital glaucoma does occur rarely in children and infants, it is most often caused by another eye disease or condition. This is known as secondary glaucoma. Common causes of secondary glaucoma include:
- Use of medications containing steroids (eyedrops, pills, sprays, etc.)
- Eye inflammation
- Abnormal blood vessels formed by diabetes or retinal blood vessel blockage
- Eye injuries
What makes glaucoma so devastating is that most people don’t even know they have it. It’s a silent, gradually progressing disease that often presents very few symptoms, if any.
As the disease progresses, blind spots will gradually develop in your peripheral vision. Unfortunately, when you finally notice these spots, the damage to your optic nerve has probably already been done. That is why it’s so important to have your eyes checked regularly so an ophthalmologist can screen you for glaucoma.
There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of glaucoma. People with the following risk factors should see their eye doctor regularly:
- Advanced age
- Low blood pressure
- Missing regular eye exams
- Family history of glaucoma
- Having a thin central cornea (the front part of the eye covering the pupil)
- Nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Past eye injury
- Elevated eye pressure
- Hispanic or African ancestry
Treatment for glaucoma is dependent upon the severity of the disease. The most common way to treat glaucoma is medicated eye drops. These drops can lower the pressure in your eyes and enhance your vision. They must be taken every day.
For patients with advanced glaucoma, surgery is often recommended. EYE-Q performs a variety of procedures for patients with all stages of glaucoma.
Your Glaucoma Specialist
EYE-Q’s resident glaucoma specialist is Dr. Brian Cavallaro. He has more than a decade of experience in the field, most recently as director of the glaucoma section at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Cavallaro specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of glaucoma and cataracts. If you are suffering from either, please contact EYE-Q today to schedule your consultation.