Glaucoma Testing & Treatment
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among adults 60 years old and older. Even though there is no known cure for glaucoma, when it is caught early enough, you can still preserve your ability to see.
This is why testing for glaucoma is so important. There are many ways to test for glaucoma, and a glaucoma test is typically a part of every visit you make to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. However, you have to regularly visit your eye doctor to receive a dilated eye exam and glaucoma test.
Of the estimated 3 million Americans with glaucoma, it is believed that half of them are not even aware they have the disease.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that gradually and irreversibly damages the optic nerve at the back of your eye. The optic nerve transmits signals from your eyes to your brain and is what enables you to make sense of what you see.
There are no symptoms until the damage is done to the optic nerve. This damage can result in blind spots in your vision that become larger over time. In most cases, glaucoma affects both eyes, although one eye may be worse than the other. After the optic nerve has been sufficiently damaged, you will no longer be able to see. Depending on the type of glaucoma you have, it may progress slowly or quickly. In either case, damage can occur for years before you’re even aware there’s a problem.
Glaucoma usually occurs as the result of fluid buildup in the eye, which increases pressure on the optic nerve, thus damaging it. Fluid buildup occurs when the usual mechanisms that drain fluid from the eye become blocked and fail to work as they should.
Most comprehensive eye exams include a glaucoma screening. Your eye doctor will likely measure the pressure of your eye, visually assess your drainage passageways, and look for any damage to your optic nerve. Examples of glaucoma tests include:
- Tonometry – measures pressure in the eye using a puff of air or gentle placement of a tiny instrument on the surface of the eye.
- Ophthalmoscopy – dilated eye exam with a special lighted scope to assess the health of your optic nerve.
- Gonioscopy – use of a special, handheld contact lens against the eye to inspect the fluid drainage angle (where the iris meets the cornea).
- Pachymetry – measures the thickness of your cornea, which can influence eye pressure measurements.
Tonometry and ophthalmoscopy are the most commonly performed glaucoma tests. It’s important to note that what is considered normal eye pressure can vary significantly from person to person. So, it’s a good idea to establish your baseline and then undergo regular glaucoma tests to confirm that your eye pressure remains stable over time.
We often recommend our patients to get a visual field test because problems with your peripheral vision are among the earliest of glaucoma symptoms.
If you’ve been told you have glaucoma, there are a variety of prescription eye drops and other medications that can help lower your eye pressure, which can prevent glaucoma from worsening. The type of medication prescribed will depend on your unique situation, but it usually works by either reducing the amount of fluid produced in the eye or improving fluid drainage from the eye.
When medications fail to keep glaucoma in check, there are additional ways to treat the disease, including laser treatment and surgery to improve fluid drainage. These procedures include:
- Laser trabeculoplasty to open clogged drainage channels
- Surgically placed drainage tubes
- Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, which may be combined with cataract surgery (if needed)
Glaucoma Testing & Treatment in Miramar, FL
To ensure your eyes' health and vision remain good well into the future, regular glaucoma tests are a must. Contact the eye doctors at Miramar Eye Institute in South Florida, at (954) 437-4316 to schedule your next visit and eye exam. You can also request an appointment now.