Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. Left untreated, this damage can eventually lead to complete vision loss. Fortunately, timely glaucoma treatment can slow or even stop the progression of the condition. At Seaside Ophthalmology, Inc., we provide medication and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), an effective form of minimally invasive laser surgery. Our highly trained and compassionate doctors value patient education and strive to ensure patients in the Brunswick, GA, area receive the best care available.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma affects patients of all ages and is characterized by damage to the optic nerve. This most commonly occurs when the fluid within the eye cannot drain properly, leading to excessive intraocular pressure (IOP).
Types of Glaucoma
This is the most common type of glaucoma and occurs when the eye’s drainage canals become partially or fully blocked or they are overwhelmed by the overproduction of fluid. Patients may unknowingly live with this type of glaucoma for years as there are typically no noticeable signs, such as compromised vision.
Also known as acute, angle-closure, or narrow-angle glaucoma, this form of the disease is considered an emergency and causes eye pressure to rise rapidly. In these cases, the patient’s iris is too close to the drainage canal. When the pupil enlarges too much or too quickly, it can cause a complete blockage.
Also known as low-tension or normal-pressure glaucoma, this form of the condition differs in that damage to the optic nerve occurs despite the fact that eye pressure remains within the normal range.
Typically diagnosed in infancy or at an early age, childhood glaucoma may be caused by genetic defects or existing conditions.
This type of glaucoma results from another disease or trauma to the eye, causing an increase in eye pressure and subsequent damage. Patients with this form of the condition often suffer from diabetes, escalated cases of cataracts, or tumors.
The Importance of Regular Exams
Since it is usually very difficult to discern the symptoms of glaucoma until irreversible damage has occurred, it is imperative that patients attend annual eye exams. It is especially important to have your eyes regularly tested once you are in your mid-30s. Depending on your risk level for glaucoma, your doctor may recommend you undergo more frequent testing.
Although glaucoma can lead to complete vision loss, timely treatment can slow or even stop its progression.
During your exam, your doctor will conduct further screening for glaucoma if your eye pressure is not within the normal range or your optic nerve appears irregular. If we confirm a diagnosis, our doctors can provide treatment to help protect your vision.
Planning Your Treatment
During a consultation, we will discuss how your condition is affecting your lifestyle and other criteria to determine which treatment is best for your needs. We offer two glaucoma treatment options:
Medicated Eye Drops
Regular use of prescription drops can help the fluid within the eye drain more effectively, decreasing eye pressure. Patient compliance is necessary since treatment is ongoing and must strictly adhere to your doctor’s instructions.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
This procedure uses a low-level laser to alter the trabecular meshwork within the eye. SLT improves the function of the drainage angle, allowing fluid to more easily exit the eye. It is important to note that repeated treatments may be needed.
Your doctor will discuss the side effects commonly associated with these treatments, cost factors, and the lifetime commitment that must be made in order to prevent further vision loss. Our doctors prefer conservative treatment options, however, patients who do not see improvement with eye drops or SLT may be referred out for surgery.
Protect Your Vision
If you have noticed changes in your vision or are due for a check-up, contact us online or by phone at (912) 466-9500. The medical professionals at Seaside Ophthalmology are genuinely committed to your well-being and can recommend the best treatment to protect your vision.