Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the western world, and of the 3 million Americans suffering from the disease, it is estimated that only half are aware of it.*
That’s a frightening statistic, but the fact is that glaucoma presents with no physical symptoms other than slowly taking away your peripheral (or side) vision – since this happens slowly, we don’t tend to notice the difference until the disease is quite progressed.
This represents 90% of all glaucoma cases. What happens is that clogs appear and build up within the eye’s drainage canals, building up internal pressure (known as intraocular pressure) on the optic nerve.
The optic nerve is responsible for providing your brain with the electrical signals to interpret everything we see, making this a very serious condition. However, the condition and its symptoms progress slowly, giving us a good chance to diagnose early.
More common in those of Asian descent, the eye drainage canals are again blocked, but this time due to a narrowing of their internal chamber. The eye becomes unable to effectively drain fluid, and severe symptoms can very quickly appear. You may experience bad headaches, eye pain, blurred vision and profuse tear production.
If you experience any of those symptoms, you should arrange an appointment immediately for an exam.
While both acute and open-angle glaucoma are related to high intraocular pressure (IOC) on the optic nerve, normal tension glaucoma is where the symptoms are the same, but the IOC is within normal levels. By using an ophthalmoscope to look through the pupil at the optic nerve, we can diagnose normal tension glaucoma and therefore recommend a treatment option.
Though there are many different types of glaucoma beyond these 3 alone, there are consistent risk factors across the board which may increase your likelihood of developing one:
The advanced imaging equipment and optometrical expertise available at our Spokane clinic allows us to diagnose glaucoma in its very early stages. While there is no cure, treatment options are available to help slow or halt disease progression; earlier detection = maximum vision retained.
Optical Coherence Tomography (or OCT) is one of our most useful tools, as it allows us to take exceptionally high resolution images of the retina and optic nerve, from which we can diagnose the presence of glaucoma. Further testing such as pachymetry and tonometry enable a concise evaluation of the progression and development of the disease, from which we can recommend a treatment plan.