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What is Glaucoma?

It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it.

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. Typically, early disease progression has very few symptoms, and in many cases, no symptoms at all. Glaucoma has long been considered the “silent thief of sight”, being one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60.  

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, the condition can usually be managed and, if detected early enough, proper treatment may minimize vision loss and blind spots due to optic nerve damage. 

Causes and Types of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is typically caused by elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Elevated pressures are typically due to an overproduction of fluid in the eye (aqueous humor) that flows throughout the inside structures of the eye. In a healthy eye, the internal fluid drains through a tissue called the trabecular meshwork where the iris and the cornea meet. When there is an overproduction of aqueous humor or the drainage system isn’t working properly, the fluid can’t drain at the proper rate, leading to elevated eye pressure.

Main Types of Glaucoma

  • Open Angle Glaucoma
  • Narrow Angle Glaucoma
  • Normal Tension Glaucoma
  • Pigmentary Glaucoma

Symptoms of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

Unlike other eye conditions, there is no pain, redness, or change in vision associated with glaucoma until the late stages of the disease. Because there are so few symptoms, many patients are unaware of glaucoma’s progression until the disease causes permanent loss of vision. 

The damage to the optic nerve is gradual, and there are often no warning signs, so early detection of glaucoma and optic nerve damage is crucial. 

Eye with Glaucoma Infographic

Glaucoma Treatment at Rottman Eye Care

  • Medicated Eye Drops: The first line of defense for glaucoma is typically medications and medicated eye drops. Eye drops typically help manage glaucoma in two ways: helping fluid drain from your eye which lowers pressure or by reducing the amount of fluid your eye makes.
  • Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI): Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) is a laser treatment option for patients with narrow angle glaucoma. The treatment targets the narrow angles between the iris and cornea in order to widen them. This increases fluid flow within the eye, allowing the eye to better regulate intraocular pressure.
  • Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT): Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a treatment option for patients with open-angle glaucoma intended to lower intraocular pressure. It is “selective” because the laser is only taken up by selected pigmented tissue in the eye. Results typically last from one to five years and can be repeated as necessary. In some cases, SLT can eliminate the need for additional glaucoma medication.
Glaucoma Treatments at Rottman Eye Care in Grand Junction, CO Glaucoma Treatments at Rottman Eye Care in Grand Junction, CO

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