The National Institutes of Health have declared January to be National Glaucoma Awareness Month. According to the Mayo Clinic’s online database, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States—affecting about 2.2 million people. Unlike other harmful eye conditions, glaucoma is a combination of factors that results in optic nerve damage. It is a condition that can be hard to detect on your own. Those suffering from the initial stages can experience a loss of vision so gradual that they do not suspect anything is wrong until the ailment has progressed to a more advanced state. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as “the silent thief of sight.” Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are ways it can be adequately treated. Fortunately, glaucoma is also easily detected with an annual ophthalmic exam at Feinerman Vision Center.
There are three different types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma, closed-angle glaucoma, and congenital glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most commonly found form of the disease in the United States and occurs when the angle of drainage formed by the cornea and the iris is open, but smaller drainage channels are partially blocked. This blockage causes the aqueous humor (fluid in the eye) to drain too slowly. The buildup of fluid backs up, causing a gradual increase of pressure within the eye that can damage the optic nerve.
The first method of treatment considered is usually medication. Prescription eye drops containing compounds that increase the outflow of fluid or reduce the production of aqueous humor can be used.
According to a Johns Hopkins special report, open-angle glaucoma is often treated safely and effectively by medical or surgical procedures. Trabeculoplasty (a type of laser eye surgery) is an outpatient procedure in which the doctor uses a high-energy laser beam to open clogged drainage canals, reducing pressure within the eye. The process is quick, lasting an average of 10-20 minutes, and a patient can usually resume normal activity with minimal discomfort.
There are certain risk factors that have been linked with the occurrence of glaucoma. Genetic aspects such as ethnic background and family history can predispose certain patients to the condition. Medical ailments such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, nearsightedness, and some types of eye injuries can also increase the risk of developing glaucoma. If glaucoma runs in your family, or if you would like to learn more about risk factors for glaucoma, Dr. Feinerman can help discuss options and determine a course of treatment.
Our sight is one of the most important senses we have, and the staff at Feinerman Vision Center is dedicated to helping patients achieve and maintain their optimum vision and eye health. Start the new year by making yourself and your well-being a priority by scheduling a complete ophthalmic exam with Dr. Feinerman or any of his qualified staff members at Feinerman Vision Center. It could be the new year’s resolution that can change your life and save your sight!