We’re Leading the Way for Glaucoma Treatment in Montana!
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for connecting the back of the eye (retina) to the brain. Glaucoma is usually caused by an increase in the fluid pressure in the eye – either because of overproduction of fluid or when the drainage system of the eye becomes blocked. The higher pressure inside the eye can cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss.
GLAUCOMA OVERVIEW: VIDEO
Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight because there are no obvious symptoms with the most common type of the disorder: open-angle glaucoma. Most people do not detect a change in their vision until there has actually been a significant loss of vision. In later stages of glaucoma, you may experience blind spots, blurry vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, headaches and halos around light. Unfortunately, vision loss from glaucoma is permanent.
The doctors at The Eye Clinic Surgicenter provide diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma in Montana.
Although there is no medical cure for glaucoma, the condition can be treated and managed to help slow vision loss and preserve your vision. The earlier your condition is diagnosed the more effective treatment will be. Our Montana glaucoma doctors offer the following glaucoma treatment options to reduce eye pressure:
- iStent Inject™
- SLT Laser
- Medicated eye drops
- Oral medications
iStent inject® is a way to reduce elevated eye pressure in patients with mild-to-moderate primary open-angle glaucoma. This procedure is typically performed in conjunction with cataract surgery. The process involves implanting two micro-bypass stents in the trabecular meshwork of your eyes. These tiny stents restore natural outflow of fluid, thus lowering eye pressure. You won’t feel these permanent stents but they will be working hard inside your eyes to keep your eye pressure in check.
Trabeculectomy is performed to reduce the amount of fluid pressure on the optic nerve, thereby slowing or preventing vision loss from glaucoma.
During trabeculectomy, your doctor creates a small hole in the white of the eye (sclera) to create a new drainage flap for aqueous humour fluid to drain through at a desired rate. Sutures are used to allow the flap to open. This flap acts like a trap door so fluid can enter into a small reservoir and drain out slowly.
Most patients will not be able to feel the drainage flap and no one will be able to see the flap because it will be hidden by the eyelid. There may be temporary swelling, redness of the eye and blurry vision after the procedure as the eye heals. During the healing period, we will ask that you wear an eye shield at night to protect your eye as you sleep, avoid strenuous activities, stop wearing contact lenses and take eye drops as prescribed by your doctor. Your eye may feel completely normal after 2-3 months of healing.
Also called filtration surgery, trabeculectomy typically has a very high success rate. In fact, some estimate that 90% of procedures are successful with the majority of patients not needing medication to control glaucoma.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Laser energy is used to clear blocked channels in the trabecular meshwork. Specific cells are treated during the process. The results are not instant; it may take 1-3 months for eye pressure to lower.
There are a variety of medicated eye drops that can be prescribed to decrease eye pressure. Your doctor may prescribe drops that increase the outflow of fluid, reduce the production of fluid or drops that achieve both.
Oral medication can be a stand-alone option or supplement the medicated eye drops. A commonly prescribed medication is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor.
Types of Glaucoma
- Open-angle glaucoma (most common): fluid builds up in the eye due to a blockage in the trabecular meshwork which leads to elevated eye pressure.
- Angle-closure glaucoma: the iris blocks part of the angle of the eye so fluid cannot drain properly. This leads to a sudden increase in eye pressure and is a medical emergency.
- Congenital glaucoma: present at birth, the angle of the eye does not allow for proper drainage of fluid.
- Secondary glaucoma: this develops as a complication of another eye surgery, injury, disease or other eye conditions.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half are aware of the condition. Although glaucoma can occur at any age, the risk of developing glaucoma increases dramatically after age 60. Other risk factors include:
- Family history of glaucoma
- Presence of diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure
- Trauma to the eye
- Certain eye conditions (thin corneas, retinal detachment, etc.)
- Race (African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Alaskans and Japanese are at higher risk)
- Naturally high intraocular pressure
Remember, vision loss from glaucoma is permanent but can usually be prevented with early detection and treatment. That means that regular eye exams are especially important for people over age 60 or those in other high risk groups.
Contact us today to schedule an eye exam in Montana to find out if glaucoma is silently stealing your vision.