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Glaucoma is a frightening term for a frightening eye condition. But the more you know about it, the better you can protect yourself against it -- and the less you have to fear from it as a result. Here are some frequently asked questions our Columbia optometrist receives on the subject of glaucoma.
What exactly is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a progressive destruction of the optic nerve that can lead to blindness. While this progression may be slowed and controlled, the damage it causes is irreversible. Glaucoma causes up to 12 percent of blindness cases in the U.S.
What causes glaucoma? Glaucoma is usually associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. The eye creates a constant supply of internal fluid, with the excess draining out through a drainage mesh in the angle between the conjunctiva and the iris. When this system doesn't work correctly, pressure goes up and the sensitive optic nerve gets damaged.
What are the main types of glaucoma? The two principal categories are open-angle glaucoma (in which the drainage system is simply sluggish) and angle-closure glaucoma (in which the drainage system gets completely closed off). Of the two, open-angle glaucoma is by far the more common.
What are the symptoms of open-angle glaucoma? As open-angle glaucoma advances, you may lose more and more of your peripheral vision before also losing central vision. It's important to note, however, that extensive optic nerve damage may occur before you ever see a difference in your vision.
What are the symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma? Unlike open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma causes severe and alarming symptoms such as eye pain, headaches, nausea and sudden vision loss. This condition must be treated immediately to prevent possible blindness in the affected eye.
How can your eye doctor in Columbia detect glaucoma early? Our eye doctor in Columbia can measure the fluid pressure in your eyes using a technique called tonometry. Vision testing can reveal any reduction in your peripheral vision that might indicate optic nerve damage. We can even inspect your optic nerves directly during a comprehensive eye exam.
What treatments can your Columbia optometrist administer for glaucoma? Our Columbia optometrist can prescribe eye drops that either reduce the amount of fluid produced in the eye or dilate the drainage system so it will work more efficiently. (You may even receive both types of eye drops.) Oral medications may also be prescribed, if necessary, to enhance these effects.
What can I do if medications aren't effective against my glaucoma? If medication alone can't control your glaucoma, we can refer you to a laser surgeon can perform any of several quick, painless procedures to alter your eye's drainage mesh.
If you want to safeguard your eyes against glaucoma in Columbia, schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Apex EyeCare. The sooner we detect glaucoma, the sooner we can apply sight-saving treatment -- so call (803) 741-7177 today!