Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. It occurs when the pressure inside the eye rises, damaging the optic nerve and causing vision loss. The condition often develops over many years without causing pain or other noticeable symptoms – so you may not experience vision loss until the disease has progressed.
Sometimes symptoms do occur. They may include:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Halo effects around lights
- Painful or reddened eyes
People at high risk include those who are over the age of 40, diabetic, near-sighted, African-American, or who have a family history of glaucoma.
To detect glaucoma, your physician will test your visual acuity and visual field as well as the pressure in your eye. Regular eye exams help to monitor the changes in your eyesight and to determine whether you may develop glaucoma.
Once diagnosed, glaucoma can be controlled. Treatments to lower pressure in the eye include non-surgical methods such as prescription eye drops and medications, laser therapy, and surgery.
Types of Glaucoma
Detecting the progression of Glaucoma
The Humphrey Visual Field is a special automated procedure used to perform perimetry, a test that measures the entire area of peripheral vision that can be seen while the eye is focused on a central point. During this test, lights of varying intensities appear in different parts of the visual field while the patient’s eye is focused on a certain spot. The perception of these lights is charted and then compared to results of a health eye at the same age of the patient in order to determine if any damage has occurred. This procedure is performed quickly and easily in about 15 minutes, and is effective in diagnosing and monitoring the progress of glaucoma.
The OCT or optical coherence tomography is used to see a more precise image of the optic nerve. This works similarly to an ultrasound, but instead of measuring sound, it measures the reflection of infrared light, which is reflected uniquely by different tissues. This test can detect glaucoma and its progression much earlier than other current methods.
Patients with glaucoma will often undergo these tests on a regular basis in order to determine how quickly the disease is progressing.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty for Glaucoma
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasy (SLT) is an advanced treatment option for glaucoma patients that lowers eye pressure and increases fluid drainage. This procedure offers a simple solution to glaucoma symptoms through a minimally invasive procedure with no side effects, scarring or pain.
The SLT procedure is effective for almost all patients with just one session. It has been performed successfully in Europe for the past 10 years and is now FDA approved for use in the US. It takes just a few minutes, providing long-term results through the use of a low-energy laser beam.
SLT is most effective for patients unable to keep up with a daily eye drop treatment because of its cost, inconvenience or side effects. SLT controls glaucoma symptoms for up to 5 years with no need for additional medication, and relieves symptoms by promoting the body's natural healing response. There are no major risks or complications associated with SLT and the procedure is covered by most insurance companies.