Glaucoma refers to a group of conditions that can deteriorate the optic nerve, which has the important job of carrying visual impulses to the brain. When neglected, glaucoma will typically cause long-term tunnel vision and/or total blindness. It's nearly always caused by increased intraocular pressure from built-up fluid.
Glaucoma primarily occurs in individuals beyond the age of 60. Currently, around two million individuals in the U.S. have glaucoma; however, many of them haven't been diagnosed. Initially, glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms and is commonly referred to as the "silent thief." Though a cure has not been found for the disease, it may be managed through early diagnosis and proper therapies.
This is a primary reason why receiving thorough eye examinations at least every other year is vital to your overall eye health. At Wang Vision Institute, our team utilizes state-of-the-art diagnostic technology and possesses comprehensive knowledge about the most innovative management approaches. If you are past 40 years old, reach out to us at our Nashville, TN practice to set up your comprehensive eye evaluation and get the upper hand on improving your eye health.
Glaucoma Explained Symptoms
The many different types and stages of glaucoma often don't cause any symptoms to manifest in the initial stages. However, each version might also present one or a few symptoms that could range from minor to severe. When glaucoma starts to progress, people may first notice changes, like decreasing peripheral vision, dimmed vision, eye fatigue, and eye redness. As the disease advances even further, symptoms can start to include seeing rainbows around lights, loss of all but central vision, nausea, and eye discomfort. Since glaucoma doesn't commonly show any symptoms until its advanced stages, receiving regular, comprehensive eye exams is extremely important in detecting it soon enough to slow vision loss.
Glaucoma Explained Causes
All types of glaucoma are caused by trauma to the optic nerve. Nearly always, this trauma is due to high internal eye pressure caused by problems with eye fluid drainage. In healthy eyes, the fluid that nourishes the eye tissue is allowed to drain to different areas via a special tissue, the trabecular meshwork, that exists between the iris and the cornea. In some patients, this flow can be obstructed or extremely slow, which leads to fluid buildup.
The most familiar kinds of glaucoma are diagnosed based on the functional capacity of the trabecular meshwork and the narrowness of the space between the iris and cornea. When fluid retention is the result of a malfunction inside the trabecular meshwork, it is considered open-angle glaucoma. In contrast, if the retention is the result of the drainage area between the cornea and iris becoming too narrow or obstructed, this is known as narrow- or closed-angle glaucoma. Research has shown that pressure-related glaucoma can run in families. Besides genetics and age, additional factors that could elevate intraocular pressure include extended use of corticosteroid eye drops, having abnormally thin corneal tissue, being Hispanic, Asian, or African American, and having certain health conditions, like diabetes mellitus. It is important to note that glaucoma can be the result of problems besides eye pressure. In these instances, it is called secondary glaucoma because it is the result of a separate, preexisting condition.
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"I had small incision lasik in October 2019 to correct astigmatism and near sidedness in both of my eyes. I am beyond satisfied with the services I received. I see way better than I ever did with contacts or glasses. Everyone I have seen at Wang Vision Institute have been so nice and personable. They were amazing at easing the anxiety I experienced when it was time for the procedure and even took a video on my phone because I asked for one! Dr. Frenkel did a great job and I have not regretted having this done with him by any means!"- A.S. / Yelp / Mar 18, 2020
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Glaucoma Explained Diagnosis
Our skilled ophthalmologists conduct several necessary tests to establish if someone has glaucoma. Each of the tests is very comfortable, fairly easy, and fast. First, we will enlarge the pupils and maybe numb the eyes using eye drops. Once the eye drops begin to work, Dr. Wang or Dr. Frenkel will perform the tests. Usually, these will include measuring the intraocular pressure (tonometry) and how thick the cornea is (pachymetry), determining the width of the pathway between the cornea and iris (gonioscopy), observing and recording the appearance of the optic nerve, testing the patient’s degree of side (peripheral) vision, and looking for any spots of blindness.
After a glaucoma diagnosis is made, there are multiple methods patients can use to effectively manage it. All of these methods focus on decreasing intraocular pressure to prevent further injury to the optical nerve. Many patients who are in the initial stages of glaucoma are often able to delay or interrupt their vision loss by controlling glaucoma with specialized eye drops.
For those whose condition is further along, more extensive treatments, such as MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery) or a trabeculectomy, can potentially help the condition significantly. Whether we provide these procedures or opt to refer our glaucoma patients to a trusted specialist, the Wang Vision Institute team of highly knowledgeable ophthalmologists is devoted to determining the best solutions for our patients' personalized ocular health needs.
Take Control of Glaucoma
At Wang Vision Institute, we often see men and women with glaucoma to help them through managing the disease. It’s important to know that receiving a diagnosis and intervention in the early stages can help you keep your glaucoma under control. Dr. Wang, Dr. Frenkel, and their team urge any person who has possible symptoms, a genetic predisposition to glaucoma, or an existing diagnosis of glaucoma to schedule a visit with our premier Nashville, TN practice.