Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects about millions of people in the United States, commonly occurring in the elderyly, but more often in older women. This serious eye condition is often inherited and can cause irreversible damage to the eye’s optic nerve, which sends visual images to the brain. Often, Glaucoma does not set in until later in life, but it can be diagnosed much sooner once initial symptoms begin. Unfortunately, many glaucoma sufferers receive no early warnings and may not experience any initial pain or discomfort, but only minor and subtle symptoms. This is why routine eye examinations are so important. Because glaucoma is an eye condition that must be managed, Owasso, OK board-certified Ophthalmologist, Dr. Jay Rigney, follows his patients every step of the way to protect and help prevent additional vision loss. With advanced diagnostic technologies, Dr. Rigney will accurately diagnose the stage of glaucoma and create a custom treatment plan so that moving forward, treatment can begin.
What Causes Glaucoma?
The eye circulates a fluid known as aqueous humor. When the mesh-like channel that helps the circulation is blocked, the liquid starts to mass, and pressure, known as intraocular pressure, begins to mount in the eye. For many patients, this pressure is painful. When intraocular pressure rises, it can damage the optic nerve. If the blockage is not cleared and the damage to the nerve is not treated, loss of vision is possible. Scientists do not know what causes the blockage, but genetics are believed to be a factor in most cases. Other conditions, such as diabetes, blocked blood vessels, inflammatory eye conditions, or previous eye injuries can also cause glaucoma.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angled-closure glaucoma (ACG) are the two common types of glaucoma. About 90% percent of all glaucoma sufferers, or about 4 million Americans, suffer from POAG. Symptoms for POAG develop slowly, so early detection is possible. Many sufferers live with this type of glaucoma for long periods of time before the condition becomes debilitating. ACG is caused by hindered drainage and the symptoms are more easily noticeable. ACG develops faster than POAG and requires immediate attention. Common symptoms of glaucoma include:
- Blurred vision
- Rainbow colored circles or halos around bright lights
- Severe eye and head pain
- Redness in the eye
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sudden loss of vision
Dr. Rigney's glaucoma treatment plans are established based upon the type of glaucoma that is diagnosed, as well as the progression of the disease.
Because a loss of vison due to glaucoma is irreversible, the diagnosis of this disease can be quite unsettling. Dr. Rigney has experience working with patients through various phases. The goal during an eye examination where glaucoma is suspect, is to detect the condition and provide treatment to preserve the patient’s vision before the optic nerve deteriorates. With early detection in an eye exam, successful preventive treatment or surgery can protect the patient’s vision. There are a few treatment options, including eye drops, laser surgery, or microsurgery. For some patients, prescription eye drops are effective. Over time, additional treatments may be necessary. If laser surgery is required, the eye specialist will attempt to open the blocked canals. If microsurgery or a trabeculectomy is the best course of action, Dr. Rigney will clear the blockage and create a new channel so aqueous humor can circulate freely and the patient’s vision preserved. If untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. This is a risk that can be avoided with regular eye exams and follow-up consultations, as well as on-going management based on your specific treatment plan.
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Schedule Your Exam
As we age, glaucoma presents a greater risk. For patients with a family history of glaucoma or who suffer diseases that can contribute to the condition, regular eye exams are the best defense. A thorough eye exam takes about one hour. Take that important first step in preserving your vision and contact Dr. Rigney to schedule your eye exam. If your family has a history of glaucoma, it is imperative that you receive regular check-ups.