Eye Surgeons Miranda

Glaucoma

There is a good reason why some people call open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease the “silent thief of sight.” The damage to your optic nerve occurs so gradually over such a long period of time that you generally only notice it once the disease has become quite advanced. Unfortunately, it's irreversible; your affected visual field cannot be recovered. However, if detected early enough, we can arrest glaucoma's development using both medical and surgical treatment. In many cases patients lose only the peripheries of their field of vision.

Prevalence of Glaucoma

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Prevalence - Worldwide, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. For those aged 50 and younger, glaucoma affects one in 200. Once you reach the age of 80, the odds increase to one in 10. Half of those Australians who have glaucoma have yet to be diagnosed.

Open-angle glaucoma, the silent thief of sight, accounts for 90 percent of glaucoma cases in our country.

Glaucoma Susceptibility

Causes and those most at risk - The Blue Mountains Eye Study confirmed that of the many risk factors for glaucoma, the strongest was increasing age. Researchers also determined that having parents or siblings with glaucoma increases your risk three-fold. Diabetes (two times risk), high blood pressure (70 percent increasing risk), use of inhaled steroid medications, elevated eye pressure (five-fold risk), short-sightedness (two-fold risk), asymmetry between the two optic nerves, even fine dandruff on the capsule of the lens can all contribute to your risk level.

Glaucoma Warning Signs

Warning signs - Closed-angle glaucoma can appear suddenly, usually accompanied by significant pain or pressure in your eye. Although vision loss can progress quickly, the discomfort tends to cause people to seek medical help before permanent damage takes place. Other symptoms include red eyes, seeing halos around lights, suddenly decreased vision, nausea and vomiting. Needless to say, if you experience sudden pain and any of these other signs, you should see an opthalmologist as soon as possible. (At Eye Surgeons Miranda, we are prepared to treat emergency patients at quite short notice.)

As mentioned above, open-angle glaucoma is painless, the loss of vision, which starts at the side, hardly noticeable. That's partly because the eyes work as a team; one eye actually covers for other. However, there are detectable changes to your optic nerve, but that requires a fundoscopic examination by a qualified professional. Like us.

Glaucoma Prevention

Preventative measures - Because of the subversive nature of open-angle glaucoma, the best means of prevention has to be early detection. That's why screening for the disease normally forms part of a standard eye examination by ophthalmologists and optometrists. By catching it early, we can help you avoid damage and preserve your visual field, so your quality of life is only minimally affected. If you're one of the 10 percent with closed-angle glaucoma and seek help when the pain first hits, we can generally help you avoid permanent damage.

Glaucoma Treatment

Treatment - Glaucoma treatment will vary from patient to patient and is dependent on a series of follow-up exams. Your two main options are surgery and pharmaceuticals, generally with the aim of reducing pressure. The most common conventional surgery is a trabeculectomy which relieves pressure by draining your aqueous humor. However, we prefer to start with less invasive methods involving use of drops and/or laser. Only if this treatment doesn't control your glaucoma, we will turn to surgery.

As far as drugs go, several different classes of medications are used, each possibly causing side effects. As well, the drug-taking regimen can be both confusing and expensive. For all these reasons, many patients fail to have their scripts refilled, and by not complying glaucoma sufferers continue to lose their sight unnecessarily. At Eye Surgeons Miranda we take patient education seriously. If you understand your glaucoma, you will be empowered to take control of it.

Glaucoma Prognosis

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Prognosis - Despite a fair bit of alarmist material available online, glaucoma - both the closed- and open-angle forms - need not be badly debilitating. The single most important factor is catching it in time. After initial treatment you have a major responsibility for the treatment of your own disease. That's because most cases of glaucoma are chronic, so long-term use of medication and repeated visits to the ophthalmologist for testing are necessary. As pointed out just above, successful treatment of glaucoma requires the continuing cooperation of you and us. If you must miss an appointment, be certain to make another appointment as soon as possible.