One of the leading causes of blindness for people over 60.

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damages the nerve connecting the eye to the brain. Left untreated, glaucoma can result in permanent blindness in just a few years. The seriousness of this common eye disease underscores the importance of having regular eye exams.

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What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to your optic nerve. It typically results from a build-up of fluid in the front part of the eye. The pressure caused by this extra fluid damages the optic nerve, leading to blindness.

There are two primary types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure.

Open-angle glaucoma (a.k.a. wide-angle glaucoma) is the most common. With this type of glaucoma, your eye's drainage system looks normal but the fluid doesn't leave the eye as it's designed to do.

Angle-closure glaucoma is more common in Asia than in Western countries. It is also sometimes called chronic angle-closure glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is marked by the drain space between your cornea and iris narrowing. This can cause your intraocular pressure to suddenly build up. Farsightedness and cataracts are also associated with this type of glaucoma.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma doesn't usually display any symptoms in the early stages, which is why early detection during yearly eye exams is essential.

Who is at risk for developing glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma. But in most cases, it affects adults age 40 and older.

Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • History of trauma to the eye
  • High myopia
  • Taking certain medications (such as prednisone)
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage

How is glaucoma diagnosed and treated?

During an eye exam, your eye care provider will check your eye pressure and dilate your pupils or use Optomap® digital imaging technology to examine the back of your eye, including the optic nerve. You'll likely also undergo tests such as a visual field exam to check your peripheral vision and optical coherence tomography (OCT) which uses light waves to take a cross-section of your optic nerve. These tests assist in the diagnosis and management of glaucoma.

If you do have glaucoma, the treatment plan will depend on the severity of the condition. Typical options include eye drops, laser surgery, or microsurgery to decrease the intraocular pressure. The least invasive treatment is preferred, but severe cases may require surgery.

At Isthmus Eye Care, we partner with you to protect the health of your eyes and your vision. Learn more about glaucoma by calling our office or by requesting an appointment online.

“Seeking any type of medical care triggers my anxiety, but my visit at Isthmus Eye Care was smooth and easy. Everyone is incredibly welcoming and kind, the equipment is cutting-edge (no more scary antiquated machines I've experienced elsewhere) and the doctors are very thorough. I feel 100% confident in my prescription and other recommendations regarding my eye care and am no longer as nervous to return to an optometrist following my experience here. Highly recommend.”

Madelyn A.