What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve due to elevated eye pressure.
How do I know if I have glaucoma?
Often you will have no symptoms. High eye pressure typically does not produce pain unless it is very high. Optic nerve damage results in gradual peripheral visual field loss, so you may never notice that anything is “wrong” with your vision. The ONLY real way to know if you have glaucoma is to see an eye doctor and have them (at least) check eye pressure and look at your optic nerve (preferably with a dilated eye exam).
If my eye hurts, should I be worried about glaucoma?
Typically high eye pressure does not hurt. In fact, dull eye pain is often not related to the eye at all – it may be due to sinus problems. The eye orbit (socket) is surrounded by our sinuses, and if there is inflammation in these sinuses, if can cause dull pain behind the eye. Sharp eye pain is often due to a corneal issues. So you should still see an eye doctor for eye pain, but it is likely not a sign of glaucoma.
How do you get glaucoma?
There are multiple factors, but the main two are age and family history. While some babies are born with glaucoma, most patients develop this later in life. Many forms of glaucoma have a hereditary component, so if anyone in the immediate family suffers from glaucoma, relative s need to get screened. Some other forms of glaucoma are related to previous trauma, infections, inflammation, or surgery. Steroids also can cause the eye pressure to rise if taken for an extended period of time.
What are the treatment for glaucoma?
There are 3 basic treatments of glaucoma: 1. Drops 2. Laser 3. Surgery. We often will try a single drops to get the eye pressure under better control. If this is not sufficiency or the patient cannot tolerate the medication, then a repeatable laser procedure may be an option. Finally, if multiple drops and laser treatments are not able to reduce the eye pressure to an acceptable level, surgery may be indicated.
Can I go blind from Glaucoma?
YES – while glaucoma takes away the peripheral vision first, it can encroach on the central vision and even completely destroy the optic nerve, leaving patients blind. This is almost always preventable, so a screening eye exam is essential.