While the exact causes of glaucoma are uncertain, the symptoms of the syndrome and the damage it can cause to your vision are definitely known. Glaucoma is a buildup of pressure within the eye, usually because fluid can’t drain properly out of the eyeball. The risk of developing glaucoma increase with age, and is higher among certain ethnic groups. If you have a family history of glaucoma, or if you are African American, you should be sure to have your eyes tested for any sign of glaucoma on a regular basis by having a complete eye exam every one to two years.
Glaucoma can cause serious deterioration to your vision, and can even result in blindness. Once this damage is done, it can’t be reversed, but when glaucoma is detected in early stages, surgical procedures can correct it, helping preserve your vision.
There are three main ways to manage glaucoma:
- Drug therapy
- Laser surgery
- Filtering microsurgery
Most ophthalmologists will recommend drug therapy first, and only use surgery if your condition doesn’t respond to the medications. Laser surgery is the preferred approach, but filtering microsurgery might be recommended if drugs and laser surgery have not been effective, or if the pressure in the eye is extremely high.
Both forms of surgery involve producing a way for fluid to drain out of the eye more efficiently. The fluid in the eye, known as the aqueous humor, constantly replenishes itself, and when the normal drainage channels become blocked or don’t function properly, pressure rises in the eye and glaucoma results.
In laser surgery, the high-intensity light of the laser reacts with the eye’s normal drainage system, called the trabecular meshwork. This reaction opens up the meshwork, allowing fluid to drain naturally out of the eye. Laser surgery is often used in conjunction with drug therapies to reduce the pressure in the eye. Cherry Creek Eye Physicians and Surgeons uses the most advanced laser surgery techniques to help control glaucoma.
Filtering microsurgery uses very small, precise surgical tools to make small incisions in the eye, allowing the fluid to drain. It’s most often used in emergency situations, or when laser surgery and drugs prove ineffective.
For more information about glaucoma and how it can be treated, please contact Dr. Stuart Lewis at Cherry Creek Eye Physicians and Surgeons, P.C., serving the Denver, Colorado area.