Glaucoma Specialist in Pottsville, PA
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If you have ever wondered why you have to do the “air puff” eye test, there is a very good reason. The test screens people for glaucoma, a debilitating eye condition characterized by dangerously high levels of intraocular pressure. Over time, the high pressure causes damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness – all the more reason to see the Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania glaucoma specialist in Pottsville, PA.
Are there tests for glaucoma?
Just because you have increased eye pressure does not necessarily mean that you have glaucoma or are at risk for developing the disease. Increased pressure, however, does often damage the optic nerve, so it is very important to make and keep regular eye care appointments.
To diagnose glaucoma, doctors conduct a comprehensive eye exam that includes the following tests:
- Visual acuity test – the standard eye chart test that measures your distance vision.
- Visual field test – a test to measure your peripheral vision
- Tonometry – an instrument that measures the interior pressure of the eye
- Dilated eye exam – drops are placed in your eyes to dilate the pupils so the eye professional can get a closer view of eye structures like the retina and optic nerve
- Imaging – various forms of imaging are used to view the optic nerve to detect glaucoma-induced damage.
- Pachymetry – an ultrasound test to measure the cornea
Is there a treatment for glaucoma?
Glaucoma has no symptoms, and the cause of glaucoma is still not yet known, but current research suggests that glaucoma is caused by nerve degeneration; researchers have discovered a link between glaucoma and other similar neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
All glaucoma treatments are designed to drop high intraocular pressure (IOP) levels, because those high levels affect both the onset and the progression of glaucoma. In fact, lowering IOP is the only way to prevent the vision loss and the eventual irreversible blindness characterized by glaucoma.
There are three conventional glaucoma treatments: medications, laser trabeculoplasty or conventional surgery. All of the treatments aim to preserve any remaining vision you have, but they can’t recover lost sight.
Medications in the form of eye drops or pills are used for early stage glaucoma to lower eye pressure. Laser trabeculoplasty is an in-office procedure used to drain fluid out of the eye and therefore lower intraocular pressure. This type of surgery can have the side effects of inflammation and soreness.
Conventional surgery techniques create a new opening for fluid to continuously leave the eye to lower pressure. Surgery is typically a last resort, tried after medicines and the laser surgery have failed to control the eye pressure. Like any surgery, there is risk of infection and inflammation, and this particular surgery can reduce vision, cause cataracts and other cornea problems, or decrease pressure too much.
60 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma. Over the last few decades, the field of medicine has made great strides in treatment options. Surgical procedures have greatly improved and the risk of glaucoma leading to blindness has been cut nearly in half. In all situations, and particularly when you have glaucoma, it is important to take care of your eye health. Make sure you have regular appointments with the Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania glaucoma specialist in Pottsville, PA.
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