What is Glaucoma and How Do You Preserve Your Vision?

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What is Glaucoma and How Do You Preserve Your Vision?


What is Glaucoma and How Do You Preserve Your Vision?

At Eye on Health here in Phoenix Arizona, our optometrist and dedicated staff believe that knowledge is power. Your vision is a precious sense that we all value and want to keep as sharp as possible. Today, we discuss glaucoma — a serious eye condition that can take your sight without warning.

Glaucoma affects your optic nerve. Think of the optic nerve as an incredibly precious electrical cord running from your eyes to your brain. Without this cord, you can’t process or interpret the images you see. You only get ONE optic nerve for your whole life — and glaucoma causes permanent, irreversible damage to it.

Now that’s a scary thought! It helps put into perspective how serious this eye disease is, right? 

We take pride in educating you on eye health and the best ways to keep your vision crisp. Let’s dig in to learn more about glaucoma and how we can help monitor your eye health.

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What Causes Glaucoma and Common Risk Factors

Did you know that an entire drainage system works continuously, around the clock, for our eyes? This drainage system is critical in maintaining and balancing our eye pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP).

Optometrists measure eye pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and consider anywhere from 12 mm Hg to 22 mm Hg as a healthy range. [1]

“Normal” looks different for a lot of people — so it’s best to ask an optometrist if your eye pressure is healthy Sometimes people have a higher or lower IOP than average, and it’s perfectly fine.

The way to measure your eye pressure that people are most familiar with is the dreaded puff of air. We’re happy to say: technology has improved. We use a simple device (called a tonometer) at our Phoenix office that’s much better and more comfortable!

If your eye drainage system isn’t working properly, you get a buildup of fluid, leading to high eye pressure. High eye pressure damages the optic nerve (aka: our invaluable electrical cord).

Damage to your optic nerve essentially creates blind spots that can’t be repaired. The most common issue is loss of peripheral vision (side vision). Sometimes people describe glaucoma as tunnel vision. We don’t want this for you, and we know you don’t either!

The best way to catch IOP changes and prevent glaucoma? Make — and keep — yearly eye appointments. An eye exam detects the many causes for glaucoma and monitors the health of your optic nerve. 

Genetic studies show that specific genes play a role in glaucoma. [2] It’s always important to know risk factors so you’re informed on what to look out for. 

Common Risk Factors for Glaucoma

  • Health conditions like diabetes or hypertension

  • Optic nerve thinning

  • Family history of glaucoma

  • Age 60 +

  • Eye injury

  • And more...

You know when you fill out all that information at a doctor’s office on your health and family history? It’s for this exact reason. The more overall health information you share with the optometrist, the better vision care you receive!

Two Types of Glaucoma and Their Very Different Symptoms of

1st Type: Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma (POAG) 

Your biggest takeaway today for today’s blog: the most common form of glaucoma doesn’t show symptoms. 

Before you panic, let us share more. This type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), happens because of the breakdown in that important drainage system we’ve already talked about. Your eyes slowly start building up fluid, increasing your eye pressure. Long-term high eye pressure slowly damages your optic nerve.

But you feel nothing.

It doesn’t affect your vision.

You don’t know it’s happening…

Only a professional eye exam can tell you about your optic nerve’s health and whether glaucoma is sneaking up on you. While we can’t prevent it entirely, Dr. Balocca can help you manage it.

The other form of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, is very serious. It’s considered a medical emergency because it blocks your drainage system and causes your eye pressure to rise quickly. [3]

Symptoms for Angle-Closure Glaucoma

  • Sudden blurry vision

  • Severe eye pain

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Seeing halos or rainbows

This form of glaucoma can cause blindness if not treated right away. [3] If you’re noticing any of these symptoms, contact our office at (480) 809-0550 right away!

Angle-closure glaucoma can also develop slowly over time. Hence why regular eye appointments are so important. Dr. Balocca provides specific details about your eye health and the steps to best preserve your vision.

With an expert hand monitoring vision changes, you can manage glaucoma — and prevent blindness.

Valuable Types of Glaucoma Treatment and What a Diagnosis Means For Your Vision

The only way to be sure you’re taking control of your eye health is to keep your routine eye exams. Your eye pressure is one aspect of measuring glaucoma, but eye exams give the optometrist all the information he needs about the health of your optic nerve.

During a routine eye exam, our optometrist makes sure your optic nerve looks healthy. He may use various methods to check for glaucoma, like:

  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) picture

  • Checking the eyes angles

  • Testing your peripheral vision

  • Measuring corneal thickness

When Dr. Balocca has all the pieces to the puzzle, he can best serve your eye care and vision needs. We’re happy to tell you there are multiple types of treatment for glaucoma.

Treatments for Glaucoma

Glaucoma’s most commonly treated with medicated eye drops. There are TONS of different eye drops and the optometrist discusses the best option with you. 

Medicated eye drops help you maintain normal eye pressure. This prevents damage to your precious electrical cord (optic nerve), and this is what we want!

Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the best eye drop that works for you, since all of them work to help the drainage system in different ways. But we’re committed to helping you keep your vision and we work with your specific needs here at Eye on Health in Phoenix.

Sometimes eye drops don’t work for everyone, but luckily you have many alternative treatment options, including [4]:

  • Oral medication

  • Laser therapy

  • Drainage tube placement

  • Surgery

We know these options don’t seem nearly as appealing as putting in a few eye drops. But the important part here: you have options and alternatives to treat glaucoma and keep your vision. 

You can read more on glaucoma here.

We’re Eager to Support Your Eye Care & Vision Needs at Eye on Health

Choosing an optometrist in Phoenix Arizona is an important decision — and we hope to make it easier for you. You don’t want to dread those yearly eye appointments or going to a random doctor when you have a problem. You want to be confident and comfortable at your eye doctor’s office.

Dr. Balocca prides his practice on clear insight and proven solutions. We understand eye care isn’t one-size-fits-all. Everyone is different, with unique needs. We’re happy to help you in any way we can.

With regular eye exams, we keep an Eye on Health and help you prevent irreversible vision loss.

So you can keep enjoying all Phoenix offers!  And if you live in the beautiful cities of Surprise or Peoria, know that you have a compassionate optometrist nearby. 

We’re here to take care of all your vision needs. Call our office at 480-809-0550 or schedule your appointment today!

Sources:

  1. https://www.glaucoma.org/gleams/high-eye-pressure-and-glaucoma.php

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6074793/

  3. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma

  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372846

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