JOHN D. ZDRAL MD (Medical Director) | JOHN E. ESSER, OD
Glaucoma is a progressive deterioration of the optic nerve that can be associated with higher eye pressures. It can result in a gradual loss of peripheral vision, and ideally needs to be diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
Glaucoma is a common eye disease that results damage to the optic nerve, loss of peripheral vision, and gradual vision loss. The most common type is referred to as open angle, as the drainage angle for fluid in the eye remains open, and typically is a slow process over time, and there is no pain. Risk factors for glaucoma are high eye pressure, increasing age, African American race, and a family history of glaucoma. Peripheral vison may decrease, followed by central vison, and once damage has occurred, it is permanent. If treated early, it is possible to slow or stop the progression with medications, laser treatments, or surgery.
The goal of these treatments is to decrease eye pressure. The standard approach to diagnosing and treating glaucoma involves measuring the eye pressure, imaging and analyzing the optic nerve, and performing a visual field test to look for any loss of peripheral vision. Newer forms of treatment for glaucoma involve placement of micro-stents to improve the drainage of the eye, which lowers the eye pressure. Medications used for glaucoma fall into four main classes, which can be combined for added effectiveness. Your doctor will typically have a target pressure to keep your eyes in a safe range, and prevent progression. Medications and other treatments are then titrated to keep you pressure within the target range. Note that in many cases having cataract surgery will decrease the eye pressure, providing some beneficial long term pressure-lowering effects.