GLAUCOMA EXAMS & TREATMENT
Should I get checked by an eye doctor for glaucoma?
Answer the following:
- Do you have a family history of glaucoma?
- Do you suffer from chronic high blood pressure?
- Do you struggle with high blood sugar?
Everyone needs to see an eye doctor for annual exams — no exceptions. If any of the above factors are true for you, however, you are at an even higher risk of glaucoma. At Key-Whitman Eye Center, our Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex ophthalmologists offer initial consultations. Schedule yours by contacting us today, and keep reading to learn about the services we offer our patients.
What is glaucoma?
A person who suffers from glaucoma is experiencing a condition that causes high pressure within the eye due to irregular fluid flow.
This high pressure can lead to serious damage to the optic nerve and even blindness. While glaucoma cannot be cured, it can be treated with prescription medications that control pressure. Surgical remedies such as selective laser trabeculectomy (SLT) may also work to halt damage and relieve the pressure within the eye that affects the optic nerve.
There are no telltale symptoms of glaucoma in its early stages. In an exam, your doctor can look at your eye pressures and optic nerve for signs of glaucoma. If necessary, your doctor can then order further testing to determine whether or not glaucoma is present. Our clinic uses advanced image capturing technology called optical coherence tomography (OCT) to obtain images of the optic nerve and nerve fibers.
A family history of glaucoma or having high blood pressure or high blood sugar may leave you at a higher risk for developing glaucoma and should be watched very closely with annual exams.
Are there any symptoms of Glaucoma?
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?
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 good vision.
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.
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.
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.
Initial Consultations in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex
At Key-Whitman Eye Center, we provide award-winning services for our valued patients, supplemented by years of experience. All of our eye doctors are board certified either by the American Board of Ophthalmology or the American Board of Optometry.