What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of related diseases that damage the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and possible blindness. Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States, can affect patients of all ages. Many people affected with glaucoma do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease until they have lost a significant amount of vision. With early detection and treatment by Dr. Aizuss in West Hills and Encino, CA, eyes can be protected against the serious loss of vision or blindness. Catching glaucoma at an early, treatable stage is one important reason to have thorough eye examinations regularly.
There are several factors that increase the risk of developing glaucoma, including:
- Age over 60
- Ethnic origin, genetic background or race such as African-American or Asian
- A family history of glaucoma
- History of elevated intraocular pressure
- History poor vision or other eye disorders or injuries
- Certain medical conditions such as diabetes
- Taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids for prolonged periods
Patients with risk factors for the disorder should be especially vigilant about having regular eye examinations.
Causes Of Glaucoma
Certain diseases or conditions can contribute to the development of glaucoma. These include:
- Increased pressure within the eye
- Severe eye infection
- Injury to the eye
- Blocked blood vessels
- Inflammatory conditions of the eye
Glaucoma is considered primary if its origin is unknown and secondary if it results from another medical condition.
Symptoms Of Glaucoma
It is important to remember that patients with early-stage glaucoma are most often asymptomatic. When symptoms occur, they vary depending on the type of glaucoma and can occur in one eye or both eyes. The symptoms of open-angle glaucoma include:
- Dim or blurred vision
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision
- Tunnel vision (at advanced stages)
The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma encompass systemic, as well as eye symptoms, including:
- Severe eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sudden visual disturbance
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Red eyes
Either type of glaucoma may be a primary or secondary disorder.
Types Of Glaucoma
There are several types of glaucoma. The two major types are primary open-angle glaucoma, in which fluid drains too slowly from the drainage channels (trabecula) of the eye, and angle-closure (narrow-angle) glaucoma, which occurs when the trabecula become blocked. Approximately 95 percent of glaucoma patients suffer from primary open-angle glaucoma. Other types of glaucoma include:
- Low Tension Glaucoma
- Congenital Glaucoma
- Secondary Glaucoma
- Pigmentary Glaucoma
- Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma
The diagnosis of glaucoma is made after a comprehensive medical examination of the eye and a review of the patient’s medical history. Tests are conducted to confirm the diagnosis. Testing may include some of the following:
- Dilated eye examination
- Visual field test (perimetry)
- Retinal evaluation
- Visual acuity test
- Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) of the optic nerve
Once glaucoma has been diagnosed, treatment should begin as soon as possible to help minimize the risk of permanent vision loss.
There is no cure for glaucoma, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing further damage. Some of the treatment methods for glaucoma are as follows:
- Medication: Eye drops or oral medication may be used to either reduce fluid production in the front of the eye or to help drain excess fluid. Side effects of the medication may result in redness, stinging, irritation or blurred vision. Regular use of the medication is needed to keep the eye pressure under control.
- Laser Surgery: Trabeculoplasty, iridotomy or cyclophotocoagulation are laser procedures that aim to increase the outflow of fluid from the eye, eliminate fluid blockages or reduce fluid production.
- Other Surgery: A trabeculectomy may be used to create a new channel to drain fluid from the eye and reduce the pressure that causes glaucoma. Surgery is performed only after medication and laser procedures have been unsuccessful. Placement of a drainage valve or stent may also be performed.
In combination with cataract surgery, an i-stent may be used to reduce pressure.
iStent Animation Patient Ed
iStent Animation MIGS
There are newer procedures under development commonly referred to as MIGS or microinvasive glaucoma surgery that offers further advances for surgical intervention for glaucoma.
While patients with early-stage glaucoma may not experience any symptoms, prompt treatment is required to preserve their vision.
Call today for your consultation at (818) 907-1038 or complete a Contact Form here! Dr. David Aizuss from Ophthalmology Associates of the Valley serves Encino, West Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Sherman Hills, and Reseda, CA with glaucoma treatments.