Glaucoma is a disease in which there is damage to the nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve. This is the nerve that leaves the back of your eye connecting the signals from the light receptors in your eye to your brain where the final processing of the signals results in vision. This connection is necessary for vision and damage to this nerve in glaucoma can lead to blindness. However, glaucoma treatment can significantly lower the risk of vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma treatment is most effective if started early in the disease process. This is why we check for the presence of glaucoma each time you have an eye exam.
There are many different types of glaucoma. Most types are slow in developing, and so it may take months or even years for a glaucoma diagnosis to be arrived at and glaucoma treatment started. Glaucoma causes loss of optic nerve fibers and loss of the optic nerve fibers causes defects in the visual field. Therefore, traditionally, this disease has been diagnosed by observation of loss of optic nerve fibers and corresponding loss of vision in the area of the visual field that corresponds to the area of the visual field in which the lost nerve fibers would have provided vision. However, the diagnosis is affected by a variety of other factors including your ocular and systemic health history, and that of your relatives, as well as other characteristics of your eye.
Glaucoma treatment has improved in that the pharmaceutical agents used to preserve vision have become more varied and convenient, so we have a better ability to select a medication that will not only help to preserve your vision, but will be convenient and have few or only minor side effects. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma we will talk with you and explain the risks and benefits of the various glaucoma treatment options, and together, determine the right glaucoma treatment plan to preserve your vision. Then, we will monitor your ocular health regularly to make sure the glaucoma treatment is working as intended.