Glaucoma is a general term used to describe a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. It's the most common form of optic nerve damage leading to vision loss. In most cases, fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. This extra fluid puts pressure on the eye, gradually damaging the optic nerve. This pressure is known as intraocular pressure (IOP), or eye pressure.Man having eye exam

While it is more likely that you will have or develop glaucoma if your eye pressures are high, many people with high eye pressures never develop glaucoma. And, some people with glaucoma never have high eye pressures. Glaucoma with eye pressure in the normal range is known as normal-tension glaucoma. Untreated or poorly controlled glaucoma can lead to permanent and irreversible vision loss and blindness.
With open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Usually, no pain is associated with increased eye pressure. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision. You may compensate for this unconsciously by turning your head to the side, and may not notice anything until significant vision is lost. The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to have annual comprehensive eye exams in which your pressure is tested.

Risk Factors:
  • African Americans
  • People Over 60
  • Family Members with Glaucomawoman having eye exam
  • Hispanics in Older Age Groups
  • Asians
  • Steroid Users
  • Eye Injury
  • High myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hypertension
  • Thin corneas
Diagnostic Exams
During an exam, in addition to checking your eye pressure, your eye doctor may use drops to dilate the pupil to examine your optic nerve.

If damage is severe enough, vision changes can be detected on a peripheral vision test known as a Visual Field Test. Often the patient won’t notice peripheral vision changes until there is significant vision loss.

Glaucoma can be controlled, but there is currently no cure. Treatment consists of lowering the intraocular pressure. Lowering eye pressure can be accomplished using medicines, laser, or surgery and treatment needs to be carried out for life.

When medication is chosen, eye drops are usually prescribed. Some of the drops need to only be used once daily while some require twice or three times per day dosing.woman having eye exam

Laser treatment has been shown to be as effective a first treatment as eye drops. This is a simple, mostly painless, quick procedure that can control eye pressure for a period of up to five years in some patients.

Many surgeries are available and most of these are reserved for patients with more advanced glaucoma, but some newer surgeries are safe enough for use earlier in the disease.

Choice of treatment depends on many factors which are unique to each patient and should be discussed with your eye doctor.

If you have any of the above risk factors and have not had an annual eye exam in the last year, call The Eye Institute at 215.276.6111 to make an appointment today at one of The Eye Institute’s practice locations