To help you understand glaucoma and how to manage the condition, our eye doctors have provided answers to frequently asked questions below. If you would like more information, or to be screened for glaucoma, please contact us to set up your appointment with one of our experienced eye care professionals.
- What is glaucoma?
- Glaucoma is a common eye disease typically characterized by damage to the optic nerve. Over time, this can cause blind spots and gradual vision loss, often beginning with the peripheral vision.
Commonly, glaucoma is due to the buildup of excessive fluid in the eye, which often results from the eye’s natural drainage system not working properly. In primary glaucoma, this system can become clogged from age. In secondary glaucoma, this fluid can accumulate from another cause, such as an eye injury, inflammation, a condition (like cataracts, diabetes, or pigment dispersion), or use of steroids.
Glaucoma can be categorized into three main types: open angle, closed angle, and low tension. In open angle glaucoma, there is an overproduction of fluid, which cannot be effectively drained. Closed angle glaucoma is more rare and is considered a medical emergency, due to the drainage system being extremely narrow or completely blocked. This causes fluid to build up fast, causing a dangerous level of pressure. The third type of glaucoma is low tension, which results when the optic nerve becomes damaged from any form of intraocular pressure.
- What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?
- In the beginning stages of glaucoma, there are little to no symptoms, making it very difficult to know if you have developed the condition. Since glaucoma tends to affect peripheral vision first, this is typically the most noticeable sign of an increase in eye pressure and potential optic nerve damage. The best way to learn if you have glaucoma is to undergo regular screenings during eye exams with your ophthalmologist. When you come in for your appointment at Eye Doctors of Washington, you can receive a glaucoma screening with our advanced diagnostic technology that can detect the disease even in its earliest stages.
- Does glaucoma run in the family?
- If you have a family history of glaucoma, you are at a higher risk of developing the degenerative condition. Glaucoma is often inherited, especially from parent to child. This is why it is important for you to receive routine screenings to catch the disease as early as possible, should you develop it.
- When should I get screened for glaucoma?
- Individuals 40 years and older should be regularly screened for glaucoma—typically every three to five years. Those who are at a higher risk of the disease (such as having a family history, being of African-American descent, or having another lifestyle risk of glaucoma), should undergo more frequent screenings, based on the recommendation of their ophthalmologist. Learn about our state-of-the-art Diopsys® NOVA vision test system for detecting glaucoma.
- Can glaucoma damage be reversed?
- No, optical nerve damage caused by glaucoma is permanent. This is why early diagnosis is crucial for protecting your vision. Once the disease is detected, however, this will allow your eye doctor to begin treatment immediately to help prevent further vision loss.
- How is glaucoma treated?
- Although glaucoma cannot be cured, the disease can be effectively controlled with the right treatment methods aimed at lowering the intraocular pressure. Common treatments for glaucoma include eye drops, laser surgery, and traditional surgery. The most appropriate solution will vary based on each patient’s case. Eye drops tend to be the most conservative treatment. Laser treatment is also an option that can be used both as first line treatment or as adjunctive therapy. For others who have not responded well to other forms of treatment, traditional surgery may be the best option; however, newer minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS) may allow for earlier surgical treatment. EDOW offers a variety of innovative glaucoma treatment options to help you get your eye disease under control. Contact us to learn which of our advanced solutions may be right for you.