Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optical nerve. An abnormal amount of high pressure in your eye is the cause of this eye damage. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in those over 40. While glaucoma can happen at any stage, it’s more common in older adults.
To assess your vulnerability to glaucoma, your optometrist will initiate by evaluating potential risk factors. These include factors like age over 60, ethnic background (African, black Caribbean, Hispanic, or Asian), family history of glaucoma, prior eye conditions or surgeries, prolonged use of corticosteroids, presence of chronic conditions affecting blood flow (diabetes, migraines, low blood pressure, hypertension), and a history of smoking. If you've already undergone a comprehensive eye exam, additional risk factors like elevated eye pressure (above 22 mm Hg) and thin corneas (below 0.5 millimeters) will also be taken into account. Additionally, the nature of your vision is significant, as farsightedness increases the susceptibility to narrow-angle glaucoma, which is more aggressive, while nearsightedness is linked to slow-progressing open-angle glaucoma.
Before we dive into the new options, it’s important to understand the goal of any glaucoma treatment. At present, glaucoma is not curable. However, treatment can significantly slow the progression of the disease. Glaucoma damages your eye's optic nerve. Extra fluid builds up in the front part of your eye (cornea), which increases the pressure in your eye. Reducing this pressure is the primary objective of any glaucoma treatment. This is often referred to as intraocular pressure or IOP.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is an innovative medical procedure used in the treatment of glaucoma. It involves using a specialized laser to target and stimulate the trabecular meshwork in the eye's drainage system. By applying this laser energy, the procedure encourages improved fluid drainage, thus reducing intraocular pressure – a key factor in glaucoma development and progression. SLT offers a non-invasive approach to managing glaucoma by enhancing the eye's natural drainage mechanisms, thereby helping to prevent further damage to the optic nerve and preserve vision.
An easy, accurate way to measure eye pressure is critical to monitoring the progress of glaucoma and adjusting treatment as needed. For patients that require more frequent testing of their eye pressure, there’s now an at-home tonometer called iCare HOME. There’s no puff of air and no eye drops. The patient can easily share the information with their eye doctor.
If you have a glaucoma diagnosis, you can feel confident that your glaucoma treatment options are only going to improve in the years ahead. Although the disease is not curable, it is very manageable with the right treatment.
It is vital to have regularly scheduled annual eye exams to help detect and treatment visual diseases such as glaucoma.