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What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition of the eye where the pressure inside the eye (also called intraocular pressure) is elevated, causing damage to the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the eye to the brain). This damage prevents the optic nerve from functioning normally, leading to vision loss. Fortunately, ophthalmologists can usually detect glaucomatous optic nerve damage before there is noticeable vision loss by examining the back of the eye through the utility of a complete exam and specialized testing.
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
- Age. Your risk for developing glaucoma increases as you get older. This risk develops after the age 40 and continues to increase with each additional decade.
- Race. Chronic glaucoma is three to four times more common in African-Americans than in whites. Also, African-Americans are more likely to develop an aggressive form of the disease at a younger age.
- Family history. Your risk if developing glaucoma substantially increased if first degree family member such as a parent or siblings has glaucoma.
- Certain medical problems. Diabetes Mellitus, heart disease and history of extreme nearsightedness are risk factors for glaucoma development.
- Medications. Chronic use of steroid creams, ointments, oral, inhalers or injections are at increase the risk of developing higher pressures which invariably increases your risk of developing glaucoma
- Associated eye issues. Patients with rigid ocular tissue, thin ocular outer surface (cornea) and/or with unique ocular conditions the clog-up the eye drainage systems such as ocular inflammation (Uveitis), ocular pigmentary sluffing (Pigmentary Dispersion Syndrome) or ocular protein sluffing (Pseudoexfoliation Syndrome) are at higher risk of developing glaucoma
How many different types of Glaucoma are there?
Numerous different types of glaucoma exist. To date there has been more than fifty different types of glaucoma that have been described. But all sharing one commonality with optic nerve damage that is evident on examination and on ancillary testing such as visual field and optical coherence tomography.
But broadly speaking there are two types of glaucoma. Open angle glaucoma and narrow angle glaucoma.
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Narrow Angle Glaucoma
Narrow-angle glaucoma occurs when the colored portion of your eye (iris) is pushed or pulled forward causing blockage of the drainage angle of the eye, leading to a rise in intraocular pressure.
Open Angle Glaucoma
In early Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) there are generally no warning signs — no pain or vision loss. But by the time one notices something is wrong, the disease has advanced significantly.
During your glaucoma evaluation, our doctors will do a thorough analysis of your optic nerve anatomy and function. Testing performed will include Visual Field, Optical Coherence Tomography, Gonioscopy, and Tonometry.