Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damages the optic nerve, the part of the eye that sends image signals to the brain. It’s one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 60, and it’s usually the result of high intraocular pressure (IOP).
At Omphroy Eye Care in Aiea, Hawaii, ophthalmologist Luis Omphroy, MD, diagnoses, treats, and manages glaucoma in all its forms and stages.
We perform glaucoma testing any time you come in for a complete eye exam. With early detection, Dr. Omphroy can prevent the disease’s progression and save your vision.
Here’s what you need to know about glaucoma and the different treatments for it.
Glaucoma occurs when the fluid inside your eye, known as the aqueous humor, builds up, increasing pressure on the optic nerve.
The humor usually flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel, but if the channel becomes blocked or the eye produces too much fluid to drain properly, the fluid builds up. We don’t always know what causes the blockage to form, but if you have a family member with the disease, you’re more likely to get it, meaning there’s some genetic component.
Glaucoma can also be the result of blunt-force trauma to the eye or a chemical injury, a severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside the eye, and certain inflammatory conditions. But all these are less common than developing it due to age or genetics.
Glaucoma primarily affects adults over 40, but younger people — and even infants — can get it.
There are two primary types of glaucoma:
Sometimes called wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common form. The eye’s drain structure (trabecular meshwork) looks fine, but fluid still doesn’t drain properly.
Most people don’t have symptoms until late in the disease, which is why it’s often called the "sneak thief of vision." The main symptom is a loss of peripheral vision. Any vision you lose can’t be recovered, which is why regular eye exams that test for IOP are critical.
Sometimes called acute or chronic angle-closure, or narrow-angle glaucoma, this form is more common in Asia. The drain space between the iris and cornea becomes too narrow for your eye to drain properly. This causes a sudden buildup of pressure in your eye.
Symptoms come on quickly, and damage can also occur quickly, so if you experience any of the following symptoms, get medical treatment ASAP:
No matter which form of glaucoma you have, the treatment goal is to lower your IOP and to do that without damaging the optic nerve further. Dr. Omphroy always starts with conservative options. Treatments include:
Dr. Omphroy may prescribe a course of corticosteroids and antibiotics, which can help reduce inflammation and pressure in the eye. Beta-blockers, most commonly used for lowering high blood pressure, work by reducing the amount of aqueous fluid entering the eye, decreasing IOP in the process.
Prostaglandin analogues relax the eye muscles, allowing greater fluid outflow and reducing intraocular pressure. Alpha-adrenergic agonists and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors both decrease the rate of aqueous humor production.
When eye medications don’t improve your condition, Dr. Omphroy might recommend laser trabeculoplasty. This is an in-office procedure, in which he uses a laser to unblock clogged drainage tubes and restore normal fluid movement.
Filtering surgery is a surgical version of laser trabeculoplasty. Other options include placing inner-eye tubes for drainage, as well as a variety of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery procedures.
Dr. Omphroy discusses your options with you before choosing what’s best for your particular case.
Glaucoma can rob you of your sight, but it doesn’t have to. If you need a checkup or if you have glaucoma and want to discuss your treatment options, give us a call today at Omphroy Eye Care in Aiea, Hawaii.