Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can lead to blindness by damaging the optic nerve. The eye continuously produces a fluid, called the aqueous, that must drain from the eye to maintain healthy eye pressure. In Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, which is the most common type of glaucoma, the eye’s drainage canals become blocked and the fluid accumulation causes pressure to build within the eye. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve which transmits information from the eye to the brain for processing.
Glaucoma results in peripheral (or side) vision loss initially, and the effect can be like looking through a tube or into a narrow tunnel. Over time, glaucoma can damage your central vision as well. Glaucoma is an especially dangerous eye condition because most people do not experience any symptoms or early warning signs at the onset of glaucoma. This is why glaucoma is often called “the sneak thief of sight.”
Regular eye examinations by your ophthalmologist are the best way to detect glaucoma. In Minneapolis, Dr. Hennen uses a variety of tools and tests to detect glaucoma including: measuring your eye pressure (tonometry); inspecting the drainage angle of your eye (gonioscopy); evaluating your optic nerve (ophthalmoscopy); and testing the visual field of each eye (perimetry).
Glaucoma can be treated, but it is not curable. The damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma cannot be reversed. However, lowering the pressure in the eye can help prevent further damage to the optic nerve and further peripheral vision loss. The treatment for glaucoma depends upon the nature and severity of each case. Eye drops, pills, laser procedures and surgical operations are used to prevent or slow further damage from occurring.
Medicines: Glaucoma is often treated with eye drops taken regularly several times a day, sometimes in combination with oral medication. These medicines help to alter the circulation of eye fluid and lower eye pressure, either by decreasing the production of fluid within the eye or by increasing the flow leaving the drainage angle
Laser Surgery: Laser surgery can be an effective option for glaucoma treatment. Trabeculoplasty is laser treatment to enhance the eye drainage function to control eye pressure within the eye when treating open-angle glaucoma.
Operative Surgery: When operative surgery is needed to treat glaucoma, Dr. Hennen will use a microscope and specialized instruments to create a new bypass drainage channel for the eye fluid to leave the eye. The new channel helps to lower the eye pressure.
Early detection along with appropriate and ongoing treatment can help people with glaucoma live productive and satisfying lives. To learn more about glaucoma or to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Hennen, contact Eyecare MPLS at 612-470-9871 or eyecarempls.com.