Be Informed about Glaucoma
Dr. Salvatore J. Shakir of Brooklyn Eye & Vision Care
There are several types of glaucoma. The following information will be about PRIMARY OPEN ANGLE GLAUCOMA, which is by far the most common form.
The optic nerve is like an electrical cable that connects the eye to the brain. Without it the brain gets no visual information, and even if the eye and the brain were both healthy, the eye would be blind. Glaucoma is a process that gradually damages the optic nerve over a period of months, years, or even decades. The damage occurs in such a way that the side vision is generally affected first. Because of these two factors, very slow damage and peripheral vision affected first, glaucoma has no symptoms. In fact, even people who have lost much of their vision are often not aware of their loss. Sadly, any vision lost from glaucoma is gone forever and cannot be restored. Early diagnosis is key to preserving vision.
The eye is filled with water-like fluid; this is on the inside of the eyeball, not the tears which are on the outside. A gland inside the eye makes this fluid all the time, and a drain in the eye removes it into the blood, keeping the pressure of the fluid in the eye fairly constant. Some variation in pressure is normal. As the years go by, the drain can slow down, causing the pressure to go up. If the pressure goes too high, it gradually begins to damage the optic nerve; that is what we mean by glaucoma. High pressure in the eye generally does not hurt, nor does it cause the eye to get red. This is another reason that glaucoma has no symptoms.The diagnosis of glaucoma is often difficult to make because of its gradual nature and absence of symptoms. Very early glaucoma is impossible to diagnose. Advanced glaucoma is easy to discern. The trick is to make the diagnosis and begin treatment before significant damage has been done.
Glaucoma cannot be cured yet. What we can do is reduce the pressure in the eye with eyedrops. This will slow or stop vision loss for as long as the drops are used as directed. If a patient stops using the drops the eye pressure will go up and gradual vision loss will resume. If the pressure cannot be controlled with eye drops, certain lasers can be used to control the pressure for a few years. If that also fails to control vision loss, surgery can be done to lower the pressure. As with any medical or surgical treatment, there are associated risks and benefits which should be discussed with the eye doctor.
We regard early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma to be an important part of our practice mission. Through patient education we strive to obtain compliance with the treatment plan, and we carefully monitor our glaucoma patients to assure protection of their precious vision.
Brooklyn Eye & Vision Care
Dr. Salvatore J. Shakir
2074 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY
Posted In: Glaucoma