What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part or the eye. The extra fluid increases the pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old. But blindness from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment.

In its early stages, glaucoma usually has no symptoms, which is what makes it so dangerous — by the time you notice problems with your sight, the disease has progressed to the point that irreversible vision loss has already occurred and additional loss may be difficult to stop.

Our doctors at Richie Eye Clinic are well trained to diagnose, treat and manage glaucoma.

Testing

During routine eye exams, a tonometer is used to measure your intraocular pressure, or IOP. Your eye typically is numbed with eye drops, and a small probe gently rests against your eye’s surface.

An abnormally high IOP reading indicates a problem with the amount of fluid (aqueous humor) in the eye. Either the eye is producing too much fluid, or it’s not draining properly.

Visual field testing is a way for your eye doctor to determine if you are experiencing vision loss from glaucoma. Visual field testing involves staring straight ahead into a machine and clicking a button when you notice a blinking light in your peripheral vision. The visual field test may be repeated at regular intervals to make sure you are not developing blind spots from damage to the optic nerve or to determine the extent or progression of vision loss from glaucoma.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) As our knowledge of glaucoma has evolved, so have our tools; optical coherence tomography (OCT) has continued to add diagnostic parameters to aid in the detection and management of glaucoma. At Richie Eye Clinic we use OCT technology to better serve our patients at the highest level of care.

Gonioscopy This diagnostic exam helps determine whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open and wide or narrow and closed. During the exam, eye drops are used to numb the eye. A hand-held contact lens is gently placed on the eye. This contact lens has a mirror that shows the doctor if the angle between the iris and cornea is closed and blocked (a possible sign of angle-closure or acute glaucoma) or wide and open (a possible sign of open-angle, chronic glaucoma).

Pachymetry is a simple, painless test to measure the thickness of your cornea — the clear window at the front of the eye. A probe called a pachymeter is gently placed on the front of the eye (the cornea) to measure its thickness. Pachymetry can help your diagnosis, because corneal thickness has the potential to influence eye pressure readings. With this measurement, your doctor can better understand your IOP reading and develop a treatment plan that is right for you. The procedure takes only about a minute to measure both eyes.

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