Glaucoma and Vision Loss
By Duane Wiggins, M.D. | Quigley Eye Specialists

Three million Americans are suffering from glaucoma.

Glaucoma can rob those three million Americans of their sight and nearly 1.5 million of them do not even know they have it. Glaucoma is referred to as a “silent sight stealer” because, unfortunately, there are minimal symptoms associated with the disease and the minuscule indicators can cause up to 40% of permanent vision loss before the person notices any vision changes.

The optic nerve transmits images to the brain. When this nerve becomes damaged or diseased, it loses the ability to create images, and therefore, communication to. the brain is lost. A buildup of pressure in the eye is the most common cause. This pressure. is known as IOP, or intraocular pressure. Disease or damage triggers this pressure in the eye and injures the optic nerve. Once IOP compromises vision, it creates irreversible blindness. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and usually affects the elderly.

The following treatment options information was published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Medication

Glaucoma is usually controlled with eyedrop medicine. Used every day, these eye drops lower eye pressure. Some do this. by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid the eye makes. Others reduce pressure by helping fluid flow better through. the drainage angle.

Glaucoma medications. canhelp you keep your vision, but they may also produce side effects. Some eye drops may cause:

  • A stinging or itching sensation
  • Red eyes or red skin around the eyes
  • Changes in your pulse and heartbeat
  • Changes in your energy level
  • Changes in breathing (especially if you have asthma or breathing problems)
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Eyelash growth
  • Changes in your eye color, the skin around your eyes or eyelid appearance

All medications can have side effects. Some drugs can cause problems when taken. with other medications. It is important to give your doctor a list of every medicine you take regularly. Be sure. to talk with your ophthalmologist if you think you may have side effects from glaucoma medicine.

Never change or stop taking your glaucoma medications without talking. to your ophthalmologist. If you are about to run out of your medication, ask your ophthalmologist if you should have your prescription refilled.

Laser surgery

There are two main types of laser surgery to treat glaucoma. They help aqueous drain from the eye. These procedures are usually done in the ophthalmologist’s office or an outpatient surgery center.

Trabeculoplasty. This surgery is for people who have open-angle glaucoma and can be used instead of or in addition to medications. The eye surgeon uses a laser to make the drainage angle work better. That way fluid flows out properly, and eye pressure is reduced.

Surgery

Some glaucoma surgery is done in an operating room. It creates a new drainage channel for the aqueous humor to leave the eye.

Trabeculectomy. This is where your eye surgeon creates a tiny flap in the sclera. He or she will also create a bubble (like a pocket) in the conjunctiva called a filtration bleb. It is usually hidden under the upper eyelid and cannot be seen. Aqueous humor will be able to drain out of the eye through the flap and into the bleb. In the bleb, the fluid is absorbed by tissue around your eye, lowering eye pressure.

Glaucoma drainage devices. Your ophthalmologist may implant a tiny drainage tube in your eye. The glaucoma drainage implant sends the fluid to a collection area (called a reservoir). Your eye surgeon creates this reservoir beneath the conjunctiva. The fluid is then absorbed into nearby blood vessels.

Cataract surgery. For some people with narrow angles, removing the eye’s natural lens can lower eye pressure. With narrow angles, the iris and the cornea are too close together. This. can cover (block) the eye’s drainage channel. Removing the eye’s lens with cataract surgery creates more space for fluid to leave the eye. This can lower eye pressure.

Individuals with glaucoma need to stay in close contact with their ophthalmologist and visits are regularly every 3 to 6 months.

About Quigley Eye Specialists

Quigley Eye Specialists, founded in 1988, consists of more than 100 medical professionals, including surgeons, optometrists, retina specialists and technicians. Offices are conveniently located throughout Southwest Florida in Sarasota, Venice, North Port, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Bonita Springs, Naples and Coral Gables.

Dr. Duane Wiggins is a board-certified Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Refractive Surgeon with Quigley Eye Specialists. Technology leaders in eye care, Quigley Eye Specialists specializes in cataracts, laser cataract surgery, glaucoma, LASIK, dry eye, eyelid surgery, retinal issues, corneal conditions, facial plastic surgery and routine eye care. The practice has served the region for more than 30 years with locations throughout South Florida including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Miami, Naples, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, North Port, Sarasota and Venice. To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit www.QuigleyEye.com or the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

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