Glaucoma Evaluation and Treatment
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals vision, sometimes without noticeable sight loss for many years. Many people feel fine and do not notice a change in vision at first because the initial loss of vision is usually of side or peripheral vision, and the visual acuity or sharpness of vision is maintained until late in the disease. If you are over the age of 40 and have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a complete eye exam with an eye doctor every year and become well-educated on glaucoma evaluations and treatments.
To diagnose glaucoma, an eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes through dilated pupils. The exam will also focus on the optic nerve, which has a particular appearance with glaucoma. A complete eye exam includes five common tests for detection.
Tonometry measures the pressure within the eye. During tonometry, eye drops are used to numb the surface of the eye. A doctor or technician then measures the inner pressure by using a device to apply a small amount of pressure to the eye or by a warm puff of air. The typical range for normal pressure is 12-21 mm Hg. The higher the pressure reading the higher the risk for glaucoma.
Ophthalmoscopy helps the doctor examine the optic nerve for glaucoma damage. Eye drops are used to dilate the pupil so the doctor can see through the eye to examine the shape and color of the optic nerve. The doctor then uses a small device with a light on the end to light and magnify the optic nerve. If your intraocular pressure is not within the typical range and/or if the optic nerve looks unusual, your doctor will perform additional exams.
Perimetry is a visual field test that produces a map of your complete field of vision. This test will help a doctor determine whether your vision has been affected by glaucoma. During this test, you are asked to look straight ahead and indicate when a moving light passes into your peripheral, or side vision. This helps draw a map of your vision. After glaucoma has been diagnosed, visual field tests are repeated at future appointments to check for any changes in your vision.
This exam helps determine whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open and wide or narrow and closed. During the exam, eye drops are used to numb the eye. A hand-held contact lens is gently placed on the eye. This contact lens has a mirror that shows the doctor if the angle between the iris and cornea is closed and blocked or wide and open.
Pachymetry is a simple, painless test to measure the thickness of the cornea – the clear, front of the eye. A probe called a pachymeter is gently placed on the front of the eye to measure its thickness. Pachymetry aids in diagnosis because corneal thickness has the potential to influence eye pressure readings. With this measurement, the doctor can better understand your intraocular pressure reading and develop a treatment plan.
How is Glaucoma Treated?
Glaucoma care is a team approach. Preventing eye damage only works if the patient follows the treatment plan at home in-between visits to the doctor. Glaucoma treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser treatments, or microsurgery.
Eye drops for glaucoma
Eye drops either reduce the formation of fluid in the front of the eye or increase its outflow. It is very important to carefully follow your eye drop regimen to achieve healthy eye pressure and prevent vision loss. There can be side effects and some glaucoma drugs affect the heart and lungs. Be sure to tell your doctor about all other medications you are currently taking or are allergic to.
Your doctor may try various types and combinations of eye drops to treat your glaucoma. He or she may also recommend glaucoma laser surgery or microsurgery.
Wolfe Eye Clinic has expertise in evaluating and treating all types of glaucoma. Wolfe Eye Clinic offers complete glaucoma treatment services throughout Iowa, including Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Spencer, Waterloo, and Pleasant Hill.
Please contact Wolfe Eye Clinic at 1-800-542-7956 to ask any glaucoma-related questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our glaucoma specialists: Dr. John Trible, Dr. Benjamin Mason or Dr. Ryan Vincent.