Glaucoma Testing and Management in Colorado Springs

Did you know that about 3 million Americans have glaucoma, which is the second leading cause of blindness in the world? But because this eye condition often has no symptoms in the beginning stages, 50% of people with glaucoma don’t know they have the disease. Here’s everything you need to know about glaucoma and how to manage the condition with the help of the experts at Evergreen Optometry. 

Glaucoma Testing and Management in Colorado Springs

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which sends visual information from your eye to your brain. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness over time. Most people with glaucoma develop the condition in both eyes, although the disease may initially worsen in one eye. 

While the exact cause of glaucoma isn't known, increased eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP), is frequently a factor. This happens when fluid builds up in the front of the eye, putting pressure on your eye and gradually damaging your optic nerve. Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to your eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside your eye, and inflammatory conditions.

Anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk. You're at higher risk if you: 

  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are over age 40, especially if you're of African or Hispanic heritage 
  • Have diabetes, high blood pressure, farsightedness, or nearsightedness
  • Have a previous eye injury or surgery
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids.

Symptoms of Glaucoma 

Vision loss from glaucoma usually affects peripheral vision (what you can see on the side of your head when looking ahead) first. Over time, it also causes central vision loss and trouble seeing objects clearly. Doing everyday tasks like reading and driving becomes difficult. The symptoms of glaucoma depend on the type and stage of your condition, but some of the most common ones include: 

  • Eye pain
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Very blurry or hazy vision
  • Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
  • Redness in the white part of the affected eye
  • Pupils of different sizes
  • Sudden loss of sight

Types of Glaucoma

There are four types of glaucoma: 

  • Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common type of glaucoma in which the drainage angle formed by the iris and cornea remains open, but other parts of the drainage don't drain properly, resulting in a gradual increase in eye pressure. 
  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma: This happens when a bulging iris partially or entirely blocks the drainage angle, resulting in a gradual or sudden increase in pressure inside the eye. 
  • Normal-tension glaucoma: Also called normal-pressure glaucoma, normal-tension glaucoma occurs because of optic nerve damage, even when the pressure within the eye is within a normal range (10-20 mm Hg). 
  • Congenital glaucoma: Also known as childhood, infantile or pediatric glaucoma, congenital glaucoma is caused by drainage canals that don't form properly in the womb. A child may be born with glaucoma or develop it in the first few years of life.

How Do You Treat or Manage Glaucoma

Unfortunately, you can't regain any vision you lose from glaucoma. However, treatment and regular checkups can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if you catch the disease in its early stages. Your treatment will largely depend on which type of glaucoma you have.

Treatment options for glaucoma include: 

  • Medications: Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment. They lower the pressure in your eye and prevent damage to your optic nerve. However, eye drops alone may not bring your eye pressure down to the desired level, so your eye doctor may also recommend adding a laser treatment or surgery.
  • Laser treatment: To lower your eye pressure, doctors can use lasers to help the fluid drain out of your eye. It's a simple procedure that can be done in the office.
  • Surgery: If medicines and laser treatment don't work, your doctor might suggest surgery. Several types of surgery can help the fluid drain out of your eye.

Can You Prevent Glaucoma?

There's no way to prevent glaucoma, but early detection through routine eye care is the best way to protect your eye health and prevent vision loss. Regular comprehensive eye examinations allow your doctor to monitor pressure levels and how well fluid drains to catch the disease in its early stages before it causes long-term damage. 

In general, anyone with high-risk factors for glaucoma should be tested every year or two after age 35. Those with no known risk factors should schedule regular eye exams based on their age:

  • Age 40-54: Every 1-2 Years
  • Age 55-64: Every 1-2 Years
  • Age 65 & Older: Annually

Schedule Your Appointment for Glaucoma Testing Today!

Glaucoma is often called 'the silent thief of sight' because by the time the disease is detected, a large amount of irreversible damage to the optic nerve has already occurred, causing permanent vision loss. If you suspect you have glaucoma, are at high risk for developing the condition, or haven't been to your eye doctor for an exam in a while, contact us today to schedule an appointment at our Colorado Springs, CO, practice for glaucoma testing and management!