Glaucoma is estimated to affect nearly three million Americans. Unfortunately, only half those people are even aware they have the disease. When glaucoma develops, there are usually no early symptoms, and a significant amount of vision may be lost before the person is aware there is a problem.
The cause of glaucoma is usually genetic, even without a family history of glaucoma. In some eyes there is a failure to maintain a correct balance between the amount of fluid produced inside the eye and the amount that drains away. When the fluid is unable to sufficiently drain to regulate intraocular pressure (IOP), the eye pressure can rise to high levels, damaging the optic nerve and causing blindness. In other eyes, even the normal eye pressure is too high for the optic nerves, again resulting in blindness. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are vital to preserving vision, and a normal eye pressure is not sufficient to exclude the possibility of glaucoma.
Traditional treatment options for glaucoma include prescription eye drops, laser treatments, and glaucoma surgeries such as trabeculectomy and tube shunt implantation.
However, newer minimally invasive procedures have become increasingly popular among patients and surgeons. These exciting treatment choices for glaucoma are called Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgeries (MIGS). These procedures provide patients with options that are, in general, safer and have faster recovery times than traditional surgical options.
More recently, the FDA approved the use of the iStent®, which is the smallest medical device implanted in the human body to date. It is a titanium stent that is implanted into the eye internal drainage system to improve drainage of the eye fluid and lower the eye pressure. iStents® are typically implanted during the time of cataract surgery.
If you have a family history of glaucoma, have risk factors for glaucoma (such as near-sightedness, diabetes, or of African American or Latino descent), or have been informed you are a glaucoma suspect, it is important to schedule an appointment. The sooner we can diagnose and treat glaucoma, the better the outcome. To schedule an appointment, call 518-438-5273.