Understanding Glaucoma: Preserve Your Vision

Just like any part of the body, the eyes need regular health maintenance. As we age, we become more susceptible to many different vision issues, from cataracts, to presbyopia, to dry eye syndrome. These conditions often make themselves known and are treatable, but not all are so simple. Glaucoma is a common eye disease that causes irreparable damage to vision, with little to no symptoms until it is too late.

Glaucoma is not preventable, and although we know of some risk factors, it is unknown what the actual cause of glaucoma is. Glaucoma may not be preventable, but the vision loss caused by glaucoma is. By attending your regular eye examinations, you are taking the proactive approach to finding glaucoma before damage has been caused. Our glaucoma specialists here in Scottsdale recommend that those with risk factors attend an examination every year.

Catching glaucoma in its early stages is the only way to prevent vision loss. It is important to understand how glaucoma causes vision loss, and why catching it early is imperative to healthy vision.

The Drainage Mechanism of the Eye

Aqueous humor, a watery substance that creates pressure to give the eyes its shape, is normally constantly flowing in and out of the eyes.This drainage system is referred to as the trabecular meshwork, and is responsible for allowing this fluid to travel throughout the chambers of the eye. To maintain the correct pressure, it is produced in the same rate that it goes back to the bloodstream.

When the trabecular meshwork becomes blocked, effective drainage is impaired and glaucoma forms slowly. Fluid builds up, causes increased intraocular pressure, and compresses the optic nerve. The optic nerve is an essential part of vision, and once damage has been caused to it, there is no correcting it. With a damaged optic nerve, the retina is unable to send signals to the brain when you are looking at something.

Chart showing glaucoma in the eye

Risk Factors of Glaucoma

There are individuals who are more likely than others to develop glaucoma. These individuals include those of African and Asian descent, those who have medical conditions like hypertension or metabolic resistance (e.g. diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.), those who are over age 60, as well as those who have a family history of the disease. Glaucoma care specialists at Arizona Eye in Scottsdale suggest frequent eye check-ups so referrals can be made to local glaucoma surgeons for possible surgical interventions. Our practice provides a wide array of surgical glaucoma treatment in Scottsdale, Glendale, and Phoenix, Arizona including Canaloplasty, Trabeculectomy, and laser surgeries like Titanium-Sapphire Laser Trabeculoplasty (TSLT), Laser Iridotomy, and Diode Laser.

Love Your Eyes

Though it is not known currently what can prevent glaucoma, there are precautionary steps and healthy habits that may ward off the disease. As mentioned, the most important step is regular eye care – comprehensive eye exams detect glaucoma in its early stages before any vision loss occurs. Exercise can also prevent high blood pressure and metabolic resistance, which can lead to glaucoma. Other preventative steps include protecting the eye from injuries, knowing your family’s history, and sufficient dietary intake of beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins C and E found in green leafy vegetables and fish.

Glaucoma Management and Treatment

If you’re concerned about the possibility of having or developing glaucoma, a visit to an eye doctor will requires very little time, and could potentially save your vision. Our glaucoma care specialists in Scottsdale take pride in offering state-of-the-art equipment and evidence-based medical experience to address your eye health needs, especially when it comes to preventative care.

For early-detected glaucoma, medications in the form eye drops and oral drugs are prescribed to reduce the pressure and halt the progression of glaucoma. More advanced cases would need surgical interventions. One of our glaucoma specialists will help decide which treatment option is best for you.

Glaucoma is a very common eye condition and given the circumstances that favor its progression, everyone can be considered at risk. If you are experiencing symptoms like headache, eye pain, eye redness, and difficulty seeing objects in your periphery, we encourage you seek medical help urgently to properly address your symptoms, as these can be signs of a rare, more severe type of glaucoma.

Love your eyes – contact Arizona Eye Physicians & Surgeons and make us your partner in preventing vision loss today!

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