Disease Management Spotlight: Glaucoma Management
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that can potentially cause permanent loss of vision. Patients commonly hear that glaucoma is related to high eye pressure. Although it is true that we manage glaucoma often by controlling eye pressure, glaucoma itself has many different forms and causes. This blog will discuss how we manage open-angle glaucoma – the more common and chronic form of the disease. For a more detailed summary on the disease itself, click here.
What are risk factors for Open-Angle Glaucoma?
- Vascular conditions
- Race: African Americans
- Family history
- High myopia
- Optic nerve appearance
- Elevated eye pressure
- Corneal thickness
How is Open-Angle Glaucoma detected?
- Unlike other eye diseases, visual symptoms are usually not evident until the disease is advanced-stage. It affects peripheral (side vision) before any loss to central vision – this is often why the disease goes undetected by patients! Because the vision loss is irreversible, it is important to detect and treat glaucoma before significant vision loss has occurred. Our testing can help identify early patterns of glaucoma to protect your vision.
What types of tests do we do for Glaucoma testing?
- A glaucoma evaluation consists of a multitude of specialty testing to establish a baseline. Although there is no single definitive test for the disease, our subsequent visits throughout the year can monitor for any changes that are characteristic for glaucoma. Here are some of the glaucoma tests we do at Eye Care Associates:
- Dilated eye exam
- Eye pressure
- Pupil testing
- Visual Field Test (peripheral vision)
- Corneal thickness measurements
- Angle evaluation (gonioscopy)
- Optic nerve head scans – optical coherence tomography (OCT)
- Optic nerve photos
My eye doctor mentioned glaucoma at my last exam – how often should I go in for an eye exam?
- Glaucoma suspects: patients may have eyes that are suspicious for glaucoma due to certain risk factors above – but not requiring treatment at this time. These patients are followed extensively in the beginning (every 3-6 months), and if stable (non-changing), they can be seen yearly at a minimum with selected updated glaucoma testing.
- Unstable Glaucoma: every ~1-4 months. Stability requires multiple visits without worsening. Patients in this category often are recently diagnosed or have new changes to their medication/treatment plan that require a closer frequency of follow-ups to see if they are responding well to treatment. Patients with advanced-stage glaucoma are also seen in this time frame.
- Stable Glaucoma: every ~4 months to a 1 year. With stable measurements at consecutive visits, some patients may be able to seen less frequently.
Every treatment plan is different for each individual depending on the form or severity of glaucoma. For concerns or questions, please ask your doctor at your next eye appointment.