Understanding Glaucoma

Chart Showing How Glaucoma Affects the Eye

Read below for a better understanding of how glaucoma affects your eyesight. Also, the modern treatments are available to help you save it.

Silent Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is a dangerous disease of the eye that can slowly and painlessly steal your sight. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Often called the ‘silent thief of sight‘ because there are no symptoms.

Over half of the people in the United States that suffer from glaucoma are not aware that they are going blind. Although the cause of glaucoma is still unknown. There are several known risk factors that may increase your risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include not only family history of the disease, but can include high eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure or IOP. Also, being African American, Hispanic and older age can be a risk factor. The disease has no early symptoms. Therefore, anyone with any of these risk factors should schedule eye exams on a regular basis. For the purpose of diagnosing and treating glaucoma before vision loss occurs.

Glaucoma Damages the Vision

Often associated with pressure buildup in the eye. Glaucoma can damage vision by destroying the optic nerve. Which is the nerve that connects your eye to your brain and carries all visual information to your brain for processing. Glaucoma will cause the loss of peripheral or side vision first. With people suffering from the disease. If the disease continues untreated. Vision loss will move towards the center of the eye. Firstly, it will cause tunnel vision and eventually blindness. Although the cause for this nerve damage is unknown. The high IOP associated with glaucoma is likely to play a major role.

IOP is a measurement of the fluid pressure inside of the eye. Ideally, the eye is filled with a clear fluid that is drained through a spigot. However, with glaucoma, the drain gets plugged and the fluid in the eye can no longer exit. Which causes a rise in IOP. Although, as some cases of glaucoma do not suffer high IOP. Careful examination of the optic nerve and potential damage is crucial. In this case, a Visual Field test should be performed. The visual field test can help determine if you’ve begun to lose eyesight.


Treatment of Glaucoma

Fortunately, treatments are available to save the vision of those suffering from glaucoma. Reducing IOP is the goal for glaucoma treatments. Moreover, to save the eye from nerve damage. Modern treatments include eye drops, laser therapy and surgery.


Eye drop medications not only reduce the amount of fluid that enters the eye and also increase the amount of fluid that exits. Both are used to reduce IOL. Several medications are available for glaucoma. They can differ in their ability to lower IOP. Which may also have side effects. Doctors often turn to laser therapy. When medications not only fail to lower IOP, or it cannot be tolerated by the patient. Advances in laser therapy have made these tools so safe and effective. Thus, laser therapy may be considered instead of medication. If all of these methods fail to bring IOP down to a safe level. Surgery to lower IOP is available. You should work to develop a safe and effective treatment plan with your doctor.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

Treatment for glaucoma focuses on preserving eyesight by slowing the damage to the optic nerve. Most treatment aims to prevent further damage to the optic nerve. By lowering the pressure in the eyes. As a Rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. To prevent or retard further damage from occurring. Eye drops, pills, laser and surgical operations are used. We take pride in offering a variety of treatment options dependent on your needs. We are a professional and experienced eye clinic.

Chart Showing How Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle-Closure Glaucoma Affect the Eye

Narrow angle glaucoma can be treated with a laser iridotomy. A small hole is made in the iris by using a laser to create a new pathway for the aqueous fluid to drain from the eye. The new drainage hole allows the iris to fall back to its normal position. Thus, restoring the balance between fluid entering and leaving the eye and lowering eye pressure.

Open angle glaucoma can be treated with laser trabeculoplasty. This procedure works by using laser light to stimulate the body’s own healing response to lower your eye pressure. Laser trabeculoplasty improves the flow of fluid in the eye. Which, in turn, lowers your eye pressure.

Ex-PRESS Mini Shunt

A recent surgical advancement in the treatment of glaucoma is the Ex-PRESS Mini Shunt Glaucoma Filtration Device. It is a small stainless steel unit. Which is similar in size to a grain of rice. And, is typically used after medical and other surgical treatments have failed.

The Ex-Press is implanted between the inner region and the outer region of the eye. Which allows for a more controlled and consistent drainage of the aqueous humor or fluid inside the eye. Thus, lowering the intraocular pressure of the eye to a healthy level.

Often glaucoma medication is not needed following recovery from the procedure.

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)

The Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a laser that treats the drain directly. Which helps increase the outflow of fluid. It treats specific cells “selectively,” leaving the trabecular meshwork intact. For this reason, the SLT may be safely repeated. It is not painful and often can be an alternative to eye drops in early open angle glaucoma.


Glaucoma treatments and surgeries will help improve the patient’s vision. The purpose of these lasers is to help lower the eye pressure and prevent vision loss. If glaucoma progresses despite medications or laser therapy. Then, other more involved surgery procedures, such as a trabeculectomy or tube shunt placement, may be necessary. Only to control or lower the pressure and prevent vision loss.

*As with any surgical procedure, there are risks along with benefits. Moreover, it is important to discuss your surgical procedure with your surgeon. For the purpose of fully understanding the risks and benefits.

Glaucoma Doctors

Dr. Allison Bardes
Allison Bardes, MD
Dr. Lauren DiGiovine
Lauren DiGiovine, MD
Edgar Gamponia, MD
Edgar Gamponia, MD
Dr. Heath L. Lemley
Heath L. Lemley, MD
Dr. Mark D. Mayle
Mark D. Mayle, MD
Dr. Stephen R. Powell
Stephen R. Powell, MD
Dr. V.K. Raju
V.K. Raju, MD
Dr. Brian Wood
Brian Wood, MD
Photo of Dr. Yearego
Joseph Yearego, OD


*As with any surgical procedure there are risks along with benefits. It is important to discuss your surgical procedure with your surgeon to fully understand the risks and benefits.

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