What is Glaucoma?

By Dr. Ryan Robison

We often see patients who haven’t had their eyes checked in several years. They think there was no reason to be checked sooner because they didn’t think they had any problems. However, from time to time some of these patients do have something going on with their eyes and they had no idea. This is often the case with a disease like glaucoma.

Glaucoma is when the pressure in the eye is causing stress to the optic nerve. This stress causes a subtle, progressive and irreversible loss of vision. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and affects over 3 million Americans but only half of those know they have it. There are typically no symptoms for glaucoma because there is no pain associated with it. It’s very rare to be able to feel the pressure building up inside the eye. It develops slowly and sometimes without any noticeable vision loss for many years until the damage is already done.

Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early it can usually be well controlled, avoiding any major loss of vision. Risk factors for glaucoma include family history, age (60+), race (African American, Asian, and Hispanic), head or eye trauma, and prolonged use of steroid medications in any form.

Treatments focus on lowering eye pressure through the use of eye drops, surgery, or both. Individual responses to the various drops and different surgery options vary and finding the right combination can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes effective treatments need to be modified because the eye no longer responds to the medication or surgery like it used to. Because of these intricacies, close monitoring is critical and may require frequent office visits.

The incidence of glaucoma is rising with the aging of the baby boomers and increasing longevity. Seeing your eye doctor regularly is your best defense. Call 435-673-5577 to schedule your appointment today or go to www.SouthWestVision.com.