What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of disorders of the eye that cause characteristic damage to the optic nerve, resulting in visual field loss and irreversible blindness. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the world, after cataracts. Glaucoma is one of the leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old but blindness from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment. When glaucoma does cause visual field loss, it results in irreversible blindness.

There are many types of glaucoma. The most common form of glaucoma is the Open Angle type of Glaucoma, which is most common in the United States. Other forms of Glaucoma include Closed Angle Glaucoma, Normal Tension Glaucoma, Neo-vascular Glaucoma, and other more rare forms such as Pseudoexfoliation, Uveitic, Traumatic, etc. Open-angle glaucoma can develop slowly over years and is usually painless.

Risk factors for glaucoma can include may things. Some of the most common are increasing age, high pressure in the eye, a family history of glaucoma, low central corneal thickness, eye trauma, history of uveitis (inflammation), etc. A normal pressure of the eye is a value between 10 and 21 mmHg. In glaucoma, most patients have a value of greater than 21 mmHg, which often leads to higher pressures leading to a greater risk of vision loss. Conversely, optic nerve damage and vision loss may occur also with normal pressure, known as normal-tension glaucoma.

Symptoms of Glaucoma can range from blurry vision, peripheral vision loss, followed by central vision loss, resulting in blindness if not treated. Closed-angle glaucoma can sometimes present suddenly and be very painful. The sudden presentation may involve severe eye pain, blurred vision, mid-dilated pupil, redness of the eye, and nausea. Vision loss from glaucoma is usually irreversible.

Screening is recommended starting at age 40 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Those at risk are advised to have a dilated eye examination at least once a year. Most patients prefer to be treated by an Ophthalmologist (Eye Physician/Surgeon) and some patients, go a step further and only prefer to be examined and treated by Glaucoma Specialists. Usually, Glaucoma Specialists have specialized tests and equipment for screening, detection, and for subsequent treatment. Some of these methods include Tonometry, Perimetry, Gonioscopy, Pachymetry, Nerve fiber analysis, dilated exam and Macular Ganglion Cell Analysis among others.

There are many forms of treatment in Glaucoma, depending on the type and severity of the illness. Your Ophthalmologist and/or Glaucoma Specialist will recommend an American Academy of Ophthalmology guideline based therapy depending on the age, stage, and severity of the illness. There are mainly three types of therapy which are Glaucoma Eye Drops, Lasers, and/or Surgery. Please consult with your Glaucoma Specialist about the type of treatment that is right for you.

At Vision Specialists of California, we take the utmost care to fully evaluate and treat your eyes according to the guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (USA certifying body). We treat you with the time and respect you deserve as not just another patient, but a fellow human being and a member of our community. Please Call (619) 501-9050 or contact our offices to set up a consultation with our specialists and get the care you deserve.

Please find more information at the American Academy of Ophthalmology website for Glaucoma:

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