Optometrists across the country agree on one urgent message they wish they could convey to all their patients: If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, do not ignore it.
Unfortunately, many patients don’t take this diagnosis seriously. They feel that because they can still see well, tending to their eye disease is not urgent. But that could not be farther from the truth. The permanent effects of glaucoma can be severe, as this disease can cause serious loss of vision and blindness.
Glaucoma is a disease that causes gradual deterioration of the crucial optic nerve, which transmits the images that you see to your brain, so you know what you’re seeing. This is a hereditary disease that affects older people.
Many people who have this disease actually have no symptoms at first. They might not feel pain or experience impaired vision, which is why this condition is easy to ignore. But getting treated as soon as possible is essential to ensure your vision remains in optimum health.
How Your Optometrist Diagnoses Glaucoma
If you have a family history of glaucoma, be sure to get a thorough annual eye exam, and be ready to treat it right away. While this condition is serious and cannot be cured, if you treat it early, you can avoid the significant destruction to your eyesight. If you don’t treat it early, any vision you lose from this disease can never be restored.
Your optometrist can detect glaucoma through a number of tests with a full dilated eye exam, including the visual acuity test, the visual field test and the dilated eye exam. The visual acuity test is the test with the chart to determine how your vision performs at various distances. The field test measures your peripheral vision and the dilated eye exam entails accepting eye drops to dilate your pupils so that your optometrist can physically examine the back of your eye.
Also under this comprehensive exam, your optometrist will perform a tonometry, which measures your eye pressure, and a pachymetry, which measures your cornea’s thickness.
Treatment Options for Glaucoma Patients
If you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, you have several options for treatment, but you must be diligent. Your optometrist may prescribe medications, either in the form of eye drops or pills. These medicines can either help your eye produce less fluid that is causing the pressure, or reduce the pressure by helping fluid drain better. Sometimes, but rarely, these medications have negative side effects like causing headaches, so communicate with your optometrist about how they affect you.
You can also explore your options for laser surgery or conventional surgery. Laser surgery can be effective in reducing pressure in your eye, but sometimes its effects can wear off. So, if you pursue this treatment, be sure to continue receiving your regular eye exams.
Conventional surgery is a last resort if medications and laser surgery have failed to help your glaucoma. With this surgery, you will need to have each eye operated on individually. And you may need to have follow-up surgeries if they are not effective.
No matter the route you take to stop glaucoma’s destructive path, it’s essential that you start your treatment as soon as possible. After all, this disease does have effective solutions that can help save your vision.