Glaucoma irreparably destroys vision yet is very difficult to detect. What is even worse is that there is currently no cure for it.
Although, you can manage and treat it with certain medications and procedures. There are ways to stop glaucoma from damaging your eyesight.
But first, you need to know how it works and how your eye doctor diagnoses it during an eye exam. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and how it gets diagnosed and treated.
Glaucoma Damages Your Optic By Increasing Pressure
The only reliable way to diagnose glaucoma is by testing the internal pressure in your eye. That’s because glaucoma causes your internal eye pressure, or IOP, to rise continually.
This buildup of IOP results from a blockage or partial closure of the drainage meshwork in your eye. Your nutrient-rich eye fluid cannot drain out of your eye as quickly as it enters.
Over time, the pressure this creates can begin to press on your optic nerve. The optic nerve delivers information from your retina to your brain.
Optic nerve damage is permanent and results in damaged eyesight. Once your optic nerve gets damaged, there is no way to fix it, and the vision loss is permanent.
Not all glaucoma is the same, though. The most common form, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), has no symptoms and a slow progression.
Angle-closure glaucoma is the opposite. This type of glaucoma comes on rapidly and destroys eyesight quickly.
Also, unlike POAG, it causes many unpleasant symptoms like nausea and headaches. It occurs when the drainage system is completely closed off.
Angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency that you must address immediately. Fortunately, it is much less common than open-angle glaucoma.
How Does Glaucoma Get Diagnosed?
The best way to diagnose glaucoma is through tonometry. This test uses a particular machine that blows a quick puff of air into your eyes to measure IOP.
The machine measures the resistance to the air from your eyes. Your eye doctor then compares that result with healthy IOPs and your previous tonometry results.
They also check for vision loss and examine your optic nerve and drainage angle. They do this using a dilated eye exam, which holds your pupils wide so they can see into your eye.
How Do You Treat Glaucoma?
If you have glaucoma, your only option is to control it before it causes more damage. The primary method of maintaining healthy IOP with glaucoma is special eye drops.
These drops reduce IOP by opening the drainage angle, reducing eye fluid production, or combining both treatments. You need to use eye drops to keep your IOP low continually.
In some instances, surgery may be necessary to save your vision. Surgery is typically only used if you need to reduce your IOP rapidly.
If possible, a minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, or MIGS, may be able to reduce your IOP. MIGS procedures reduce the risk of surgery complications and are effective glaucoma treatments.
There is no need to fear glaucoma. The best thing you can do to protect your eyes from this dangerous disease is to see your eye doctor regularly.
Is it time for you to have an eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Stahl Eyecare Experts in Garden City, NY, to ensure your eyes are safe!