What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a serious disease that can cause irreversible damage to vision. It affects over 2 million people in the United States alone and is extremely difficult to detect, as it usually has no initial symptoms. Without regular eye exams, glaucoma can go undetected for a long time. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness behind cataracts.
Glaucoma is usually caused by ocular hypertension, which occurs when the pressure inside of the eye becomes too high. Inside of the eye is a space called the “anterior chamber”, which is located at the front of the eye. This chamber is responsible for delivering fluid that sustains the surrounding tissues. The fluid then exits through an opening between the cornea and the iris.
In the most common form of glaucoma, the drainage system becomes blocked which causes the fluid to build up and increase the pressure inside of the eye. The pressure puts the optic nerve at risk of damage, which inevitably results in loss of vision and eventually blindness. This type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma.
Other Types of Glaucoma
Narrow-Angle Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma comes in a series of attacks each lasting several hours, which can cause severe pain, sensitivity to light, and nausea.
Normal-Pressure Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma is similar to “open-angle” glaucoma, in that it damages the optic nerve. However, this form occurs with normal eye pressure, and researchers are still figuring out why this occurs.
Pigmentary Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma occurs when some of the pigmented granules of the iris flake off and clog the aforementioned drainage system. This is an especially rare form of glaucoma.
Secondary Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma is the result of an eye injury or infection.
Congenital Glaucoma: Congenital glaucoma is hereditary and occurs in children who are born with defects in the eye fluid drainage system.
Most types of glaucoma produce no symptoms until permanent vision loss occurs, which is why it is strongly recommended to have routine eye exams. Only a medical professional can determine whether or not you have developed glaucoma. If detected early, glaucoma can be treated and vision loss can be avoided.
The only way to prevent glaucoma-related vision loss is through early detection. If you have glaucoma and are looking for treatment, or if you have not had an eye exam in a few years, contact Bowden Eye & Associates today to set up an appointment! Online appointment scheduling is also available via our website, or give us a call at (904) 298-0098.
OCT- The Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a non-contact method of testing used to detect the presence of glaucoma by measurements of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL). During the OCT testing, patients will place their eyes in front of a scanner that will map out the nerve layer thickness of the retina and the shape and contour of the optic nerve.
Nerve damage from glaucoma will have characteristic findings that this exam can detect sooner than other ways of testing. There are two different types of OCTs offered at Bowden Eye & Associates, RNFL and PPAA. The PPAA, posterior pole asymmetry analysis, gives our physicians an expanded view and even more valuable information about our patient’s nerve health than with RNFL alone.
Visual Field- A visual field test is typically ordered by one of our physicians every 6 months to 1 year. The patient is seated in front of a large white bowl piece of equipment. One eye is covered, while the other eye fixates on a target object, such as a light in the center of the bowl. The patient is given a button to press each time they see a flashing light. The test then records the data for the physician to review. This test will show the doctor areas of the patient’s vision that potentially already show signs of glaucoma and field loss.