Glaucoma Treatment in Delaware
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
The optic nerve is a bundle of more than one million nerve fibers that connects the retina to the brain. (See diagram below.) The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that acts as film in a camera to capture images. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision because it serves as the message center between the eye and the brain.
The most common form of Glaucoma is Open Angle, otherwise known as COAG. This form of glaucoma is primarily affected by a clear fluid that flows continuously in and out of the front part of the eye (called the anterior chamber), and nourishes nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber at the open angle where the cornea and iris meet. When the fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork that filters the fluid before it leaves the eye.
Sometimes, when the fluid reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the spongy meshwork. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises to a level that may damage the optic nerve. When the optic nerve is damaged from increased pressure, open-angle glaucoma and vision loss may result. It is important for individuals with Glaucoma to see their eye care professional regularly in order to monitor pressure levels and any possible progression of the disease.
Glaucoma is a disease that can affect anyone. However, trends have shown that some individuals are at higher risk than others. They include:
- African Americans over age 40.
- Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanic Americans.
- People with a family history of glaucoma.
A comprehensive dilated eye exam can reveal more risk factors, such as high eye pressure, thinness of the cornea, and abnormal optic nerve anatomy. Studies have shown that early detection and treatment of glaucoma before it causes major vision loss is the best way to control the disease. Therefore, it is important to have routine examinations with an eye care professional to monitor any changes that may occur.
The earlier glaucoma is detected, the faster progression of the disease can be delayed. Treatments for glaucoma include medication, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery or a combination of any of these. It is important to know that although these treatments may help preserve remaining vision, they are not able to improve or restore sight already lost from glaucoma.
Medications in the form of eye drops are the most common form of early treatment. These medications act to either reduce the amount of fluid produced or assist the fluid in draining from the eye, ultimately reducing eye pressure. Similarly, laser trabeculoplasty works to help fluid drain properly. The surgeons of Delaware Eye Care Center are pleased to offer Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) to their glaucoma patients. The SLT is a non-thermal laser that stimulates the removal of debris that normally prohibits fluid from flowing properly through the eye. Due to its non-thermal nature, treatment with the SLT is repeatable if necessary. Unlike medications or laser trabeculoplasty, one of the last options used to treat Glaucoma is conventional surgery. This surgery is more invasive and is generally only done if medications and laser surgery have proven unsuccessful at controlling eye pressure.
For more information on Glaucoma or the SLT procedure, please call Delaware Eye Care Center’s Surgical Counseling Department or schedule an appointment with our Doctor’s by calling 1-800-900-2020.