in South Windsor & Newington
Also serving Hartford
Here at Aucello EyeCare Center, we provide glaucoma treatment in South Windsor and Newington. As your optometrist, we want you to understand a glaucoma diagnosis. While this type of eye condition cannot be cured, it is treatable using services offered by our eye doctors in Newington and South Windsor. Become informed about glaucoma so you can take the best course of action for your eye care needs.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name for a group of conditions adversely affecting the eye. Individuals with glaucoma are suffering from some type of disease or damage to the optic nerve. This nerve transmits information from the eye to the brain, and when it is injured it can lead to permanent vision loss.
The primary cause of glaucoma is an increase in eye pressure, which is called intraocular pressure. This happens when the eye is unable to drain fluid properly and fluid builds up in the front of the eye. If left untreated will cause total permanent vision loss in a few years. This increased pressure of the eye happens more often to certain individuals.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two principal types of glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma develops gradually due to problems that develop within the drainage angle, or the area between the cornea and the iris where fluid drains from the eye. With open-angle glaucoma, the drainage angle remains open, but it is does not drain fluid as well as it should. (Imagine a clogged drain.)
Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as narrow-angle glaucoma, is the more serious form of glaucoma. It occurs when the drainage angle becomes completely blocked. As a result, the pressure inside the eye spikes quickly.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Those who are at risk for glaucoma tend to be over 40. They tend to have vision correction issues including corneal conditions, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or eye injuries. Individuals who are diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or poor circulation are more at risk for developing glaucoma. African Americans and people of Hispanic or Asian heritage are also at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma Warning Signs
How do you know if you have glaucoma? Unfortunately, there are no symptoms for many sufferers until it is too late for treatment. Those who do experience symptoms have blurred vision, halos around lights in their vision, or decreased vision. You may have severe headaches or pain with nausea or vomiting. Additionally, the symptoms will depend on the type of glaucoma you have. For those with open-angle glaucoma, you will typically experience slow vision loss. Individuals with narrow-angle glaucoma, a more rare condition, will have sudden pain in the head or eye along with nausea or vomiting.
Diagnosing glaucoma requires a comprehensive eye examination and some testing with our eye doctors. We will consider many different factors before we deliver a glaucoma diagnosis.
During the exam, our eye doctors will dilate your pupils and look inside your eyes, examining several critical areas. We will inspect the drainage angle to determine whether it is wide and open or narrow and closed. We will also examine your optic nerve for any signs of damage. We may take photographs of your optic nerve, if needed. We will also measure the thickness of your cornea, which can play a part in your eye pressure readings.
Our doctors will measure the pressure inside your eye (i.e., your intraocular pressure) through the tonometry test. This involves applying a tiny amount of pressure to your eye with a puff of air or a small device. Your eyes will be numbed with special drops so you will not feel any discomfort during this test.
We will also evaluate your peripheral (side) vision to determine whether your visual field has been affected by glaucoma.
Glaucoma Treatment at Aucello EyeCare Center
Once you have a diagnosis you want to begin treatment, such as glaucoma medication, as soon as possible. This is your best chance to ward off the symptoms of glaucoma including permanent blindness. If your glaucoma has progressed you may need to be referred to an eye surgeon for treatment. We will work with you to provide personalized treatment.
Eye Drops for Glaucoma
Normally the first line of defense against glaucoma is the use of prescription eyedrops. There are many different kinds of drops; some work by decreasing the amount of fluid your eye produces, while others improve the way fluid drains from your eye. Sometimes several different drops are prescribed to use in conjunction with each other.
It is very important to comply with the instructions for taking the eyedrops. If they are not taken regularly you will not see the maximum benefit.
Traditional Surgery for Glaucoma
If eyedrops alone cannot reduce intraocular pressure to the appropriate level, or they produce intolerable side effects. surgery may be recommended. The most common glaucoma surgery is trabeculectomy, in which the surgeon creates a small passage in the white part of the eye into which fluid can drain. The channel is covered by a thin flap or “trapdoor.”
Laser Surgery for Glaucoma
More recently, doctors have started to replace traditional surgical methods with laser therapy. For example, a procedure called laser trabeculoplasty uses a small laser beam to open clogged portions of the trabecular meshwork, or the spongy tissue within the drainage angle that facilitates the outflow of fluid.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery
A particularly exciting area of glaucoma treatment is minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), which is considered less risky than traditional surgical procedures. With microscopic equipment and tiny incisions, MIGS involves implanting tiny devices into the eye to increase the outflow of fluid and lower intraocular pressure.
What is elevated eye pressure?
Glaucoma develops when excess pressure within the eye begins to damage the optic nerve. If left untreated, glaucoma will lead to partial or total loss of vision. At Aucello EyeCare Center, we pay close attention to elevated eye pressure as it can be the first clue that you may be developing this serious condition.
Ocular hypertension can be as dangerous to your eyes as general hypertension is to your organs. It has no early warning signs or symptoms until irreversible vision loss has occurred. Once your vision care specialist diagnoses the disorder, it will need to be monitored regularly.
Pressure builds when an imbalance occurs in the production and drainage of aqueous humor, the fluid inside your eye. Even as the eye continues to produce new fluid, the channels which normally drain the aqueous humor become obstructed or damaged. Once that happens, the effect is similar to the inflation of a balloon. There’s no bursting of tissue, but serious damage to the optic nerve can result.
What causes pressure buildup?
Damage to the release channels can happen as a result of injury to the eye. Eye trauma can range from a sports injury to a car accident, and if it happens near the eye with sufficient velocity, it can damage those vital drainage channels, setting in motion the rise in pressure.
Use of steroids, including steroid eye drops that are sometimes prescribed after eye surgery, is another possible cause. In addition, ocular hypertension may suddenly appear with the onset of other eye conditions, such as pseudoexfoliation syndrome, a disease related to age and genetics in which small protein fibers accumulate, clump together and block the free flow of fluid within the eye.
Pigment dispersion syndrome is another vehicle for the accumulation of drainage-blocking particles in the eye. In this case, granules of pigment break loose from the iris and obstruct one or more channels. Other suspected culprits are the fat deposits associated with corneal arcus. These types of lipids can increase in number with age, although younger individuals with high cholesterol may also develop the condition.
Sometimes, however, there is no obvious cause. Checking to see if there is a history of glaucoma in your family is one way to anticipate whether you may be at risk of developing the disease in the absence of trauma or physical damage to the release channels.
Are there ways to prevent glaucoma?
Just as your diet affects your overall health, your eyes are sensitive to which foods you are consuming, and which nutrients you may be missing. Many studies have demonstrated that a diet rich in key vitamins and minerals protects your eyes against serious diseases. Glaucoma may be one of these.
Omega-3 fats found in salmon and other fish, leafy greens, fruits and vegetables high in beta carotene, and anything that is a good source of lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc, should be on your menu. And don’t forget to burn all those powerful nutrients with physical activity; research suggests a strong link between vigorous exercise and improved eye health.
If you are suffering from glaucoma in the Hartford, CT area and would like to learn more about getting treatment, schedule a consultation at Aucello EyeCare Center. Our talented team of eye doctors can provide you with an accurate diagnosis, treatment options, and glaucoma medication. You can reach our South Windsor office by calling (860) 644-4362 or our Newington office by calling (860) 667-2020.