What Is and How Do We Treat Glaucoma?
Dr. Whitman: Hello and welcome to Key-Whitman. I’m Dr. Jeffrey Whitman and I am
being joined today by several doctors on our Key-Whitman team. If you
are watching this video it is likely because you or someone you love has
been diagnosed with glaucoma, otherwise known as the “sneak thief
of sight”. Glaucoma has no cure and is the 2nd leading cause of
blindness. However, at Key-Whitman, we have solutions for managing your
condition and preventing loss of vision.
What is glaucoma?
Dr. Hong: The anterior chamber or the front of the eye is filled with a fluid called
the aqueous humor. This fluid provides a pressure to maintain the shape
of the eye like the air in a balloon. This pressure we refer to as IOP
or intraocular pressure. In a healthy eye, the fluid flows in and out
of the natural drainage system. With most kinds of glaucoma, the drainage
system does not work properly and the fluid in the eye does not drain
well which causes a raise in the pressure in the eye and leaves the optic
nerve in the back of the eye vulnerable to permanent damage from this
Are there any symptoms?
Dr. Warren: In the early stages of the disease there are no signs or symptoms. Only
during your yearly eye health exam with full dilation can we detect glaucoma
when we take a look at your eye pressures and the condition of the optic
nerve. If we suspect glaucoma, we will order further tests which will
include a visual field test to determine if there has been any subtle
loss of peripheral vision. At Key-Whitman we’ll also take a look
at your nerve fiber layer with a special machine called an OCT. The OCT
stands for O
ptical Coherence Tomography and we use it to precisely capture an image of the optic nerve and surrounding nerve fibers.
Similar to an ultrasound, the OCT measures the reflection of infrared
light, not sound, which is reflected uniquely by different tissues. This
test can help detect glaucoma much sooner than other traditional methods.
How is glaucoma treated?
Dr. Whitman: If needed, we will prescribe prescription eye drops which help to lower
eye pressure and these must be used exactly as we prescribe for best results.
After a few weeks of beginning the new medication, we will have you return
to repeat pressure measurements and to see how you are tolerating your
new medication. We will continue to monitor your eye pressure by asking
you to return every 3 to 6 months to take another look and to repeat some
of the testing looking for any advancement of the disease. We cannot emphasize
enough how important these follow-up appointments are to preserving your
Dr. Warren: During your follow-up visits, we may add additional medications to help
to further lower pressure and we may suggest more therapeutic treatments
like the SLT or Selective Laser
Trabeculoplasty. To increase the drainage of the aqueous fluid, a laser is used to help
the trabecular meshwork—the normal outflow area for aqueous, to
allow more fluid to filter through. Sometimes, the SLT laser helps to
reduce the need for additional drops, but please remember to specifically
follow our treatment plan and ask questions if you don’t understand.
Dr. Barke: When we don’t get the pressure down with medications or laser, we
may have to resort to surgery in order to slow the progress of glaucoma.
We may suggest a procedure called a Canalaplasty for treatment of advanced
glaucoma. Canalaplasty is an effective and proven procedure that uses
microcatheter technology to enlarge your drainage system much like with
angioplasty. By restoring your natural drainage system, eye pressure is
usually lowered. Other types of surgery are available as well if needed.
Dr. Whitman: Remember, at Key-Whitman we are here to help you. Managing
your glaucoma is life-long. If glaucoma is left untreated, if you don’t
use your medication like you should or if you don’t keep up your
follow-ups appointments, any vision you lose will be permanent. Thank
you and we hope this video has helped you understand your condition.