In its early stages, glaucoma is a symptomless disease of the optic nerve. Most cases of glaucoma have a genetic origin, but there are several other possible causes. Even people with normal eye pressure can develop glaucoma. Medically, the exact biological mechanism for glaucoma is still not fully understood. However, it is known that optic nerve damage progresses faster in the presence of elevated intraocular pressure. Treating the eye pressure with medical eye drops or surgery can slow or halt the progression of this disease. A healthy life style which includes regular exercise can also be a factor in maintaining optimal eye pressure.

Glaucoma still remains the number one cause of blindness in America; because people with glaucoma have no way to appreciate the severity of their condition until the disease has robbed them of much of their functional peripheral vision.Only a comprehensive eye exam, with a dilated evaluation of the optic nerve and imaging with peripheral visual field testing can confirm the presence of this eye disease.

Open angle glaucoma does not cause acute pain or sudden vision loss. In fact, the functional decline is so gradual that people can adapt to the changes as the disease progresses. They may not notice until they have an accident or until the disease affects their central vision. Unfortunately, by then there is no way to regain what vision is lost and additional damage is more likely.

Nerve cupping

Peripheral Vision Loss

If you are found to be at risk for Glaucoma

  • You may be told you have one or more risks factors for developing glaucoma. These could include the following:
    Elevated intraocular pressure (typically above 20)
  • Optic nerves that show a large amount of “cupping”
  • High Amounts of Nearsightedness or Farsightedness
  • Race or Ethnicity – glaucoma is more common in people of African descent as well as people from Asia.
  • Other family members with glaucoma (specifically a sibling but multiple family members including mother and father is significant)

The more risk factors one has the more likely they will need a glaucoma specific evaluation.

The Glaucoma Evaluation

It is important to know definitively if a patient has the disease before treatment is started, because glaucoma treatment tends to be lifelong once started.
Patients will have to be monitored more frequently and have at least one visual field test and one image of their optic nerve every year. With regular follow up visits, we can detect the signs of glaucoma sooner and better monitor any progression of the disease.

Glaucoma Treatment

Each case of glaucoma is unique, and each person must have the treatment of their disease tailored to the severity of their condition and how that treatment interacts with their other systemic health issues. When patients have exceptionally complex cases or conventional therapy seems to be ineffective, other specialists may be employed who can perform surgery on the eye to lower the pressure beyond what topical therapy can achieve.

At Optometric Associates, we take the time to keep you informed of you condition and your options. Our state-of the-art technology can detect glaucoma at its early stages, and accurately detect any changes in your condition. We have years of experience in treating glaucoma, and we value your eye health as much as our own.

Cataracts are common, age-related clouding of the clear lens that covers the eye. Though they are not dangerous or threatening to the health of the eye, cataracts can be an inconvenience when performing seemingly routine tasks, such as reading, driving, cooking, or watching TV. Cataracts often start small and evolve into larger vision obstructions. Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts include clouded and blurred vision, as well as impaired night vision, light sensitivity, or seeing halos around lights. Treatment for cataracts usually begins conservatively using eyeglasses or simply turning on brighter lights. But as cataracts progress, they may require vision restoration surgery.

Did you know…

that more than 50 percent of Americans age 80 or older either have at least one eye cataract or otherwise have already had one or more cataracts removed? The risk of getting cataracts increases with age, but that doesn’t mean that younger people in their 40’s and 50’s can’t get them too. In order to lower your risk of getting cataracts, the National Eye Institute recommends protecting your eyes with brimmed hats and a nutritious diet full of leafy green vegetables and antioxidant-rich foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I see an eye doctor about cataracts?

Although you should be seeing your eye doctor regularly for eye exams, it is important to make an appointment at the first sign of vision changes. If you have not had any vision changes, but your are age 60 or older, you should be getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam and the minimum of one time every two years.

What should I expect if I need cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a very safe procedure performed every day across the U.S. If you require surgery on both eyes, note that only one eye will be operated on at a time. During the surgery, your eye will be numbed and you may be placed under sedation to help you relax during the procedure. Using a special instrument – often a laser – your eye doctor will carefully remove the clouded lens from your eye and replace it with an artificial one made of silicone, plastic, or acrylic. Because cataract removal is an outpatient procedure, you should be able to return home the same day as your surgery.

Will I need to follow-up with my eye doctor or follow any post-operative instructions?

Cataract surgery is successful in about 98 percent of all cases. Following the post-operative instructions of your eye doctor can help improve your chances of a positive outcome. You will experience some mild itching following your surgery, as well as some sensitivity to light. Be sure to use the eye drops prescribed to you in the days following your procedure and avoid lifting heavy objects or putting pressure on the eyes during the healing period.

Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula weakens, resulting in a loss of central vision. The condition, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), can cause blurring and even partial vision loss. There are two types of macular degeneration – wet and dry. Most people with the disease have the latter version, which is caused solely by an aging macula. However, some people have wet macular degeneration, which occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow inside the macula. The wet version can lead to permanent scarring and loss of central vision.

Did you know…

that macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in America? Currently, there are approximately 1.8 million adults over age 40 who have macular degeneration – most of whom are seniors ages 75 and up. Even more – 7.3 million – are currently considered at high risk of developing the disease. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates the prevalence of macular degeneration to grow, reaching nearly 3 million by the year 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?

Age is the most influential risk factor for developing macular degeneration, though the disease is also common in Caucasians, and people who smoke. The symptoms of metabolic syndromes such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, can also increase the risk of developing macular degeneration.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

In most cases, the symptoms of macular degeneration begin gradually and progress slowly over time. People often describe having blurry vision or blind spots, as well as difficulty perceiving color. Anyone who is experiencing unusual vision changes should schedule an optometry appointment. A routine eye exam can identify AMD in its earliest stages, which may improve long-term management of the disease.

What is the treatment for macular degeneration?

There is no cure for macular degeneration although an optometrist can help manage the condition. People with AMD may benefit from certain nutritional supplements like zinc and beta-carotene, as well as certain drug therapies as the disease becomes more advanced. Wet macular degeneration often requires greater interventions, which may include laser therapy to target and destroy abnormal blood vessels in the eye.