Many people have heard of glaucoma, which is a very common eye disease. It occurs when the optic nerve becomes damaged due to an accumulation of pressure inside the eye, causing vision loss. The vision that has been lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored, with early diagnosis, regular monitoring, and preventative treatments, it is possible to protect your vision from further damage.
There are different types of glaucoma, with four main varieties. These are:
Primary open-angle glaucoma: the most common type which develops very slowly.
Closed-angle glaucoma: a rare type that can develop slowly or come on very suddenly and cause immediate symptoms including eye pain.
Secondary glaucoma: this occurs as a result of an eye injury or another eye condition such as uveitis.
Congenital glaucoma: glaucoma that is present at or develops shortly after birth and is caused by an abnormality of the eye.
Glaucoma is often referred to as a silent eye disease since it is usually slow in development and this means that symptoms are difficult to detect and easily overlooked. In the most common type of glaucoma, the first sign is usually the loss of your peripheral vision. For this reason, peripheral vision evaluation usually forms a part of any comprehensive eye exam.
Closed-angle glaucoma is rare, but it is still helpful to understand the symptoms of the condition, which tend to develop suddenly and can include:
- Severe eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
If you experience these symptoms it may not necessarily be closed-angle glaucoma, but it is still advisable to seek prompt attention from your eye doctor, who can identify their cause and make a recommendation for treatment.
Glaucoma can only be diagnosed by trained and experienced professionals like the doctors at Family Eye Care Centers! Although the condition can be diagnosed by assessing the patient’s symptoms, there are also some extremely valuable clinical tools that Family Eyecare Center’s can use both for glaucoma diagnosis and the detection of its progression. Here at Family Eyecare Center’s we use the following tests and instruments to help diagnose early signs of glaucoma:
Diopsys testing helps your eye care specialist detect dysfunction early, track disease progression, and tailor treatment using the most advanced visual electrophysiology testing available
What is a Diopsys® VEP and ERG vision test?
A Diopsys® VEP vision test is a painless, safe, non-invasive way for your eye care provider to objectively measure the function of your entire vision system.
When light from an image enters your eye, it is turned into electrical energy by cells in the retina – the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye. These cells send the electrical energy back to the visual cortex, the part of your brain where the image is processed.
VEP, or Visual Evoked Potential, uses visual stimuli from a computer screen in different patterns and contrasts to elicit the electrical response from your retina. The electrical energy is then sent to your visual cortex, where the Diopsys® VEP vision test records the electrical signal, and creates a report for your doctor. It is similar to an EKG, but for your entire vision system.
A Diopsys® ERG vision test is also a painless, safe, non-invasive way for your eye care provider to objectively measure the function of your retina – the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye.
When light from an image enters your eye, it is turned into electrical energy by cells in the retina. Pattern ERG, or electroretinography, uses visual stimuli from a computer screen in different patterns and contrasts to elicit that electrical response. The electrical energy created is measured by the Diopsys® ERG vision test, and used to create a report for your doctor.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive imaging test. OCT uses light waves to take cross-section pictures of your retina.
With OCT, your eye doctor can see each of the retina’s distinctive layers. This allows your doctor to map and measure their thickness. These measurements help with diagnosis. They also provide treatment guidance for glaucoma and other diseases of the retina. In fact, an OCT scan can help to detect glaucoma up to four years earlier than traditional imaging methods.
Zeiss computerized Humphrey Visual Fields
This test helps your doctor detect and monitor glaucoma. Usually, the visual field test is taken once a year but depending on the severity of your glaucoma, your doctor may decide to check your visual field more frequently.
A visual field test maps out just how wide your world looks like to you. It measures the area of vision, or how wide of an area your eye can see. Glaucoma usually is a painless process that mostly affects the peripheral, or side vision, first.
The visual field shows changes that are not noticed by the patient until the damage is severe. Other diseases, such as cataract, stroke, macular degeneration and diabetes, can affect your visiual field as well
There are different types of visual field tests. The one most commonly used in the United States is the Humphrey visual field, which consists of a center fixation light and blinking test lights in your side vision.
Areas that appear gray or black on the test results reflect areas in your vision that are blurred or missing. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma and it remains uncontrolled, these areas will get darker and larger.
Your doctor at Family Eye Care Centers can tailor the type of test to best monitor your disease and adjust treatment appropriately. If your visual field is worsening, it could mean that your pressures are too high and further treatment is necessary to lower your eye pressure.
Retinal photography of the optic nerve
As glaucoma specialists, another important test that we will undertake is retinal photography of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is what connects the eye to the brain. It carries messages from the retina, which is the area of light-sensitive cells at the very back of the eye, to the brain. By visually assessing the appearance of the optic nerve, our team can determine if there are any abnormalities that could indicate that there is an eye disease. The test itself is carried out, with a specially designed fundus camera that provides a magnified and recorded view of the eye structures in such detail that even the smallest abnormality can be detected.
What's the treatment for glaucoma?
1. Medicines. Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment.
2.Laser treatment. To lower pressure in your eye, doctors can use lasers to help the fluid drain out of your eye.
3. Surgery. If medicines and laser treatment don't work, your doctor might suggest surgery
Treatment for your glaucoma will largely depend on the type of glaucoma that you have. In the most common variety – open-angle – your eye doctor will work at lowering the pressure inside your eyes by either increasing the drainage of the fluid or decreasing its production.
If you have any further questions about glaucoma, our dedicated and experienced team at Family Eye Care Center’s would be delighted to help you. Please contact our offices for more information.