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Many systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes can erode your health stealthily, without warning. Some eye diseases are the same way, slowly destroying essential parts of the eye without your being aware of it. Glaucoma is one such disease, usually offering no early symptoms or warnings. But you can control this destruction of the optic nerves though early detection and treatment -- and here at Eyecare Specialties, we're happy to provide glaucoma treatment for residents of Warrensburg, Lees Summit, Sedalia and Clinton MO.
Glaucoma generally refers to optic nerve damage brought about by excessive fluid pressure inside the eye (although there is a mysterious exception known as "normal pressure" glaucoma as well). This fluid, the aqueous humor, is produced by the eye on an ongoing basis, with tiny drainage ducts around the iris allowing excess fluid to drain off, thus controlling the pressure level. When something goes wrong with this drainage system, the pressure inevitably rises. If it gets high enough, it starts to destroy the sensitive nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve.
There are two main categories of glaucoma. In the most common variety, open-angle glaucoma, the drainage angle at the front of the eye is normal but the drainage ducts perform sluggishly. This causes gradual damage that may produce no symptoms at all for years. By the time your vision starts to go, extensive damage to the optic nerves may have already occurred. A less common variety known as angle-closure glaucoma is a much more acute situation. A narrow drainage angle allows for a sudden, total blockage, creating a fast spike in pressure that can cause pain, vomiting and sudden loss of vision.
The only way to know whether you have glaucoma is to get it diagnosed in a routine eye exam. Your optometrist on our eye care team can measure intraocular pressure using a method known as tonometry. Inspection of the inside of the eye under pupil dilation can also reveal changes in the optic nerves.
Prompt diagnosis can stop or slow glaucoma before it significantly impairs your eyesight. Your optometrist may use different treatments to enhance eye drainage, reduce the amount of fluid produced or possibly both. this can be achieved with:
Eye drops - Eye drops containing prostaglandins or beta-blockers can relax and dilate the drainage ducts. Other types of eye drops slow fluid production.
Oral drugs - Oral drugs can be prescribed alongside eye drops to provide extra pressure control when eye drops alone are insufficient.
Laser treatment - In extreme cases, we may refer you to a specialist for a laser procedure such as trabulectoplasty, which changes the drainage system to make it more efficient.
Remember, the earlier your glaucoma is detected, the earlier glaucoma treatment can begin. Call our nearest location for an appointment with your optometrist!