Glaucoma Specialist

Eyecare MPLS: Stella Hennen, MD, MSPH -  - Ophthalmologist

Eyecare MPLS: Stella Hennen, MD, MSPH

Ophthalmologist & Glaucoma Specialist located in Uptown, Minneapolis, MN

More than 3 million Americans currently suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma symptoms can sneak up on you, possibly causing you to lose as much as 40% of your vision before you realize there’s a problem. But with regular eye exams at Eyecare MPLS in Minneapolis, Minnesota, you can get an early diagnosis. Using state-of-the-art equipment, skilled ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist Stella Hennen, MD, MSPH, performs treatments like laser procedures and surgeries to help you maintain your eyesight. Book an appointment online or call the office to learn more today.

Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affects internal drainage of the eyeball and optic nerve - a part of the eye responsible for vision. The eyeball is filled with a special fluid, called “aqueous fluid” (not to be confused with tears). This fluid naturally flows from the eyeball through a drain located inside the eyeball. This drain is called the “trabecular meshwork.” It is located in the angle formed by the cornea (the clear part of the eye) and the iris (the colored part of the eye). Under normal circumstances, there is a balance between fluid production and fluid outflow. In such circumstances, the eye pressure remains normal – ranging between 8 mmHg to 22 mmHg. When the balance is disturbed, the fluid builds up inside the eyeball, leading to increased eye pressure, characteristic optic nerve damage, and vision loss. Glaucomas are typically (but not always) associated with high eye pressure. In fact, up to 50% of patients with glaucoma have normal eye pressure during initial presentation. Although some patients are born with glaucoma or develop it in childhood, most patients who develop glaucoma, do so later in life.

What are the three major types of glaucoma?

The three major types of glaucoma include: open angle glaucomas where the angle is opened but is malfunctioning or clogged, angle closure glaucomas where the angle is narrow or closed, and mixed-mechanism glaucoma where an initially opened angle becomes closed later.

What are the risk factors for glaucoma?

  • Older age
  • African American or Hispanic descent
  • Scandinavian descent
  • Increased eye pressure
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypertension
  • Trauma
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Family history positive for glaucoma
  • Certain medications

How do you diagnose glaucoma?

While eye pressure measurement was once the standard way to screen for glaucoma, it can miss certain kinds of glaucoma like normal tension glaucoma. Dr. Hennen uses all the most advanced tools to identify all types of glaucoma.

At Eyecare MPLS, Dr. Hennen uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, including:

  • Fundus photography: photos of the optic nerve and retina (thin film that lines the inside of the eye)

  • Visual field testing of central and side vision

  • Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SDOCT): high-speed laser imaging of the angle, optic nerve, and retina

  • Ultrasound biomicroscopy: detailed imaging of the iris, ciliary body and lens

  • Eye pressure measurements with Goldman applanation tonometry

How do you treat glaucoma?

There are 3 main categories of glaucoma treatment:

  • Medical treatment
  • Laser procedures
  • Glaucoma surgeries

What is the medical treatment for glaucoma?

Medical treatments consist of eye drops or oral pills. Eye drops and pills decrease eye pressure by either decreasing fluid production in the eye, improving fluid drainage out of the eye, or both. Eye drops are used on a regular basis. Although some patients tolerate pills well, pills may have side-effects such as nausea or tingling sensations in toes and fingers. In rare cases, pills can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. Therefore, they are mainly for short-term use.

What are the laser procedures for glaucoma?

Laser treatments are designed to facilitate fluid drainage out of the eyeball. They work by creating new drainage paths for inner-eye fluid, or creating an open angle, or both. These are office procedures which take about 2 minutes to perform. The eye pressure is checked about 20 minutes after the procedure.

What are the three types of laser procedures for glaucoma?

There are 3 types of laser procedures that Eyecare MPLS offers for glaucoma treatment:

  • Selective laser trabeculoplasty or SLT: A laser is applied to the inner drain to unclog it from pigment or other substances that can impede the fluid drainage.

  • Laser peripheral iridotomy or LPI: This uses a laser to creates a small hole in the iris (the colored part of the eye) to facilitate fluid outflow, and to lift the iris away from the lens zonules (suspensions that hold the lens in place).

 

  • Iridoplasty: In this procedure, tiny laser burns are created around the entire periphery of the iris to make it thinner in order to facilitate the drain opening.

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