Glaucoma Screening Eye Examination
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can cause blindness if untreated. It affects about 2% of whites and 8% of African Americans over the age of 40. Glaucoma causes no symptoms until it is very advanced; this is why it’s often called “the sneak thief of sight.” The disease is easily treatable and blindness can be prevented if the disease is detected early, so a routine eye examination is imperative if you feel you may be at risk for developing the disease.
Glaucoma arises when the eye pressure is too high, causing damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve acts like a wire, sending vision information from the eye to the brain for processing. Damage to the nerve therefore causes gradual loss of vision. Because the peripheral (side) vision is affected first, patients may not even realize they are losing vision from glaucoma unless they are told by their eye doctor.
Advanced Glaucoma Visual Field Damage
The eye pressure is determined by a delicate balance between fluid being formed in the eye and fluid being drained from the eye. Problems with fluid drainage cause an increase in eye pressure. After checking your vision, one of the first things your doctor will do during your office visit is to check the eye pressure. We place a numbing drop in the eye and touch the eye very lightly with a special instrument that records the pressure.
We may use another technique called gonioscopy to examine the area where fluid drainage occurs. If the drainage mechanism is open, your doctor may diagnose a condition called “open angle glaucoma”. This is the most common form of glaucoma. If the drainage mechanism is blocked, a condition called “narrow angle glaucoma” is diagnosed.
Your doctor will also evaluate the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma damage. The optic nerve in glaucoma has a “cupped” appearance easily seen on examination.
If your doctor suspects glaucoma, a visual field test is performed to look for signs of peripheral vision loss. Visual fields taken over time can detect worsening vision loss.
The doctors at Ophthalmology Associates of Bay Ridge use the latest equipment to diagnose glaucoma, including the HRT optic nerve analyzer, OCT nerve fiber layer analyzer and Humphrey visual field testing.
Certain people are more likely to develop glaucoma. These patients should undergo regular yearly screening for glaucoma. The major risk factors are:
People with multiple risk factors are called glaucoma suspects and are followed closely for the development of glaucoma.
If your doctor determines you have glaucoma, he will recommend a glaucoma treatment aimed at lowering the eye pressure to prevent further vision damage. Many treatments for glaucoma are available, and your doctor can help decide which glaucoma treatment is best for you.
Glaucoma causes progressive, IRREVERSIBLE vision damage. You won’t know if you’re at risk for glaucoma unless you are told by your eye doctor. It is imperative to have an eye examination as early as possible because blindness can be prevented if glaucoma is detected early and the appropriate glaucoma treatment course is initiated.
People with known risk factors for glaucoma should be screened every 6-12 months. Patients with glaucoma are usually seen every 3-4 months, depending on how well-controlled the eye pressure is.
If you have glaucoma, it is extremely important to continue regular followup as directed by your physician. Only your eye doctor can tell if your treatment regimen is still effective, and whether additional therapy is needed.