In glaucoma, usually the pressure inside the eye is too high. The eye is filled with fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid must drain out of the eye to prevent this pressure build-up. If there is a problem with the drainage inside the eye, the pressure inside the eye will increase. In most patients this pressure increase is gradual, and will generally produce no early symptoms. This is called chronic glaucoma. But if the pressure increase is sudden, it can produce severe pain and rapid loss of vision. This is called acute glaucoma.
The optic nerve, like the brain, does not grow back. Therefore, damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma is not reversible. Once vision is lost from glaucoma, nothing can be done to bring it back. This is why it is so important to catch and begin glaucoma treatment as soon as possible, before it causes any damage, or at least when the damage is minimal. The goal of treatment is to prevent glaucoma from getting worse. To make sure glaucoma is not getting worse, our glaucoma specialists at MEA check the eye pressure at every office visit. Other tests, such as the visual field tests and optic nerve imaging tests, are performed on a regular basis as well. MEA has the latest equipment to help monitor for glaucoma progression.
The only treatment proven to stop glaucoma is lowering the pressure inside the eye. There are different ways to lower the eye pressure, and treatment options vary depending on the severity and type of glaucoma. Our glaucoma specialists at MEA will determine the most appropriate treatment for you. Treatments may include eyedrops, pills, laser procedures, and surgery. Eye drops must be used daily, often long-term, to maintain the eye pressure at a low level. Laser procedures are performed in our offices and are generally painless, quick, and are low-risk. Surgery for glaucoma is performed in the operating room. Surgery is the most effective treatment to lower eye pressure, but it also has more risk. The"gold standard" surgical procedure for glaucoma is called trabeculectomy and it is the most commonly performed glaucoma operation. Our glaucoma specialists at MEA were trained at some of the most prestigious academic centers to perform glaucoma surgery using the latest techniques available.
In most patients, glaucoma is a treatable condition. The key to glaucoma treatment, as with many other diseases, is early detection and faithful adherence to the treatments prescribed by your doctor at MEA.
Increased eye pressure is the greatest risk factor for the development of glaucoma. There are other significant risk factors. If a family member has glaucoma, make certain your eyes are checked regularly. Also, African-Americans have a 4 times greater risk for glaucoma than whites. Age is a risk factor, especially if you are over 40. Nearsightedness, or myopia, is another risk factor. If you have poorly controlled diabetes, you are also at higher risk for glaucoma.
How to put eye drops into your eyes:
Six Steps for One Drop
- Tip your head back or lie on a couch and look straight up at the ceiling.
- Hold the bottle perpendicular to the floor and look up at the bottle tip, which should be a few inches above your eye.
- Pull the lower lid down with one hand.
- Steady your hands by resting the wrist of the hand holding the bottle onto the hand holding the eyelid.
- Apply a drop.
- Keep the bottle from touching the eye or it can become contaminated. And do not attempt to look in a mirror during instillation; this practically guarantees drops will fall to the floor.