Glaucoma Awareness Month
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so we’re sharing about what glaucoma is, how it is detected and treated, and the importance of annual or semi-annual eye exams (depending on age) in determining whether or not you have glaucoma.
Glaucoma can be described as a plumbing problem within the eye. There is fluid produced inside the eye every day (we aren’t talking about tears here, but rather, fluid within the eye). Its purpose is to nourish the inner parts of the eye (lens, cornea, etc). There is a small drain, called the trabecular meshwork that takes this fluid away. It is widely thought that the main type of glaucoma (Open Angle Glaucoma) is caused by a clogging up of this meshwork drain by different proteins within the eye – thus, the fluid backs up, the eyes pressure goes up, and the elevated pressure slowly kills the optic nerve of the eye. This process is usually relatively gradual; however, in the majority of cases, there are no symptoms of elevated pressure until very late in the course of the disease.
Unfortunately, the effects of the damage caused by glaucoma are irreversible, so early detection is vital.
The only means of early detection of glaucoma is through an eye exam; thus, the importance of remaining vigilant about keeping up with your eye health. Once glaucoma is diagnosed, there are multiple treatment options that, in the majority of cases, should save the patients’ vision for decades, if not for the rest of their lives. These treatments range from eye drops to laser treatments to surgical correction. Often glaucoma is linked to the development of cataracts, so the surgical correction of both can be performed simultaneously.
The interesting thing is, because cataracts cause a decrease in vision, it is often the cataract that gets the patient to the eye doctor, where then both cataract and glaucoma are discovered. This brings us back to the importance of the eye exam. In an interesting side note, many of the patients that come to Katzen Eye Group are Laser Vision Correction (LASIK and PRK) patients, so it’s not an uncommon case that patients will go multiple years without having an eye examination again (since their vision has been corrected and they’re no longer in need of new glasses or contact lenses every year or two). However, we at Katzen Eye Group are diligent about getting our patients back in for eye exams – we use several avenues to send reminders to patients. We hope you’ll make time for an annual eye exam in 2017!