Prevent Blindness of America reports that glaucoma affects nearly two percent of all U.S. adults over the age of 40. The prevalence rate of glaucoma in Ohio is slightly higher than the national average, with an estimated five million Ohioans diagnosed with some form of glaucoma every year. In some cases, glaucoma can be successfully treated with medication and lifestyle changes. When glaucoma doesn't respond to these treatments, a Vision Care of Ohio optometrist may recommend a laser glaucoma treatment.
Your eyes depend on the constant secretion of fluid for optimizing eye health and vision. Excess fluid exits the eye through drainage angles to prevent the buildup of fluid. Suppose it cannot normally drain—pressure increases in the eye. When intraocular pressure increases above the average level, you may be diagnosed with glaucoma.
This particular eye disease is often called the "silent thief of sight" because it does not cause symptoms until in its advanced stage. You won't know you have it unless your optometrist performs special tests on your eyes. Only when optic nerve damage has progressed into an advanced stage will you start noticing significant blurring or darkening of your peripheral vision. Eventually, glaucoma can leave you partially or completely blind unless treated before symptoms occur.
Risk factors include:
Optic nerve health is vital to retaining your vision. After receiving visual information from your retina, the optic nerve sends this information to the brain's visual cortex. Impairment of the optic nerve interferes with the ability of the optic nerve to send visual signals to the brain. In addition, damage to the optic nerve is permanent.
Eventually, your visual field will gradually narrow, leaving you with the ability to only see what is directly in front of you. Glaucoma could also cause various degrees of color blindness, sensitivity to light, and significantly reduced visual acuity. You may be unable to drive and require visual enhancement devices to do daily activities like shopping and housework.
A state-of-the-art ophthalmoscope that captures detailed scans of the retina, the Optomap is the most valuable tool available to detect glaucoma. Scanning of the retina with this device takes less than 10 seconds and does not involve touching the eyeball. Retinal images can be fine-tuned by an optometrist to provide precise views of the outer and inner condition of the retina.
No dilation drops are needed and you do not need someone to drive you home after an Optomap retinal exam.
Eye drops for glaucoma are formulated to prevent further optic nerve damage by reducing intraocular pressure. Some eye drops may help decrease fluid in the eye or allow fluid to drain more easily. If intraocular pressure doesn't respond to eye drops, a Vision Care of Ohio optometrist will likely recommend glaucoma laser treatment.
The clinical name for a laser-guided glaucoma operation is trabeculoplasty. A non-invasive, in-office treatment for glaucoma, trabeculoplasty involves an optometrist applying low-level laser energy to the eye's drainage issues. Laser energy causes chemical changes in the tissues that make it easier for fluid to drain out of the eye.
Numbing drops are placed in the eye prior to the procedure to increase comfort. Common side effects of glaucoma laser treatment include minimal soreness or some swelling that diminishes within 48 to 72 hours. There is no recovery time and most people can resume normal daily tasks after treatment.
Vision Care of Ohio provides glaucoma laser treatment, medication, and Optomap retinal exams for residents of Middleburg, Vermilion, Willoughby, and surrounding areas. As Northeast Ohio's most comprehensive and affordable vision center, we genuinely care about you and your family's vision and eye health. Call today to schedule an eye exam or to learn more about treatment for glaucoma.