Glaucoma Explained in Tuscaloosa, AL

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What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a set of conditions that can damage the optic nerve, which carries visual impulses to the brain. If not treated early enough, glaucoma will often lead to vision loss and/or complete blindness. It is nearly always caused by elevated pressure within the eye from built-up fluid. Glaucoma mainly occurs in individuals beyond 60 years of age. In the beginning, glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms and is often referred to as the "silent thief." Though there is no cure for glaucoma, it may be slowed via early diagnosis and appropriate treatments. At inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa, we have the most up-to-date diagnostic techniques and are extensively trained in the most innovative management techniques. If you are past 40 years of age, reach out to us at our Tuscaloosa, AL office to schedule your exam and get in control of managing your eye health.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated with Glaucoma?

Risk factors for glaucoma include elevated intraocular pressure, age (especially over 60), and a family history of the condition. Ethnicity also plays a role, with African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians at higher risk. Other factors include having certain medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, as well as a history of eye injuries or prolonged steroid use. Early detection through regular eye exams at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa is crucial for managing and preventing vision loss from glaucoma.

What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Unfortunately, glaucoma usually has no symptomatic warning signs until the optic nerve is substantially damaged. In this stage of glaucoma, you may experience mild to severe headaches, eye pain, blurred vision, halos around lights, and colors that appear faded or washed out. If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to schedule an evaluation at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa as soon as possible. We may be able to slow the progression of your glaucoma, preventing potential loss of vision.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Glaucoma

All varieties of glaucoma are the result of injury to the optic nerve. Nearly always, this trauma is caused by elevated internal eye pressure from fluid buildup. In properly functioning eyes, the fluid can easily move to different areas through the trabecular meshwork. If this drainage channel gets clogged, it causes fluid retention. The multiple types and stages of glaucoma frequently have no symptoms at all in the beginning. When glaucoma starts to progress, people often first notice changes, like blind spots in their peripheral vision, blurred vision, tension headaches, and eye redness. As glaucoma progresses, symptoms may start to include pronounced glare, loss of peripheral vision, nausea, and eye discomfort.

If a glaucoma diagnosis is established, there are numerous treatments patients can use to successfully manage the condition by reducing internal eye pressure to avoid more injury to the optic nerve. Many patients who are in the first stages of the disease can often slow or stop their vision loss by managing glaucoma with specialized eye drops. For patients whose disease is further along, more extensive treatments, such as MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery) or laser therapies, can possibly improve the condition a great deal.

Glaucoma FAQ

What are the types of glaucoma?

  • Open-angle glaucoma — presents with patchy blind spots in your peripheral vision (sides) and tunnel vision
  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma — eye redness, halos around lights, intense headaches, blurry vision, eye pain, nausea, and vomiting

When should I see a doctor for glaucoma?
As soon as you start to notice the signs of glaucoma like the ones listed above, you need to see a doctor — so they can examine your eyes and plan treatment early if it is determined you have glaucoma.

How many people with glaucoma go blind?
Due to the effectiveness of modern treatments like MIGS and trabeculectomies, blindness caused by glaucoma is uncommon. In the U.S., only about 5% of people with glaucoma go blind. If left untreated, however, glaucoma can cause blindness in several years.

Is MIGS surgery for glaucoma safe?
MIGS (micro-invasive glaucoma surgery), when compared to traditional glaucoma surgeries, carries a lower risk of complications like cornea swelling, double vision, low intraocular pressure (IOP), or the exposure of a drainage implant. The safety and efficacy of MIGS are a major advantage of this glaucoma treatment. While MIGS does not replace the need for traditional glaucoma surgeries, it can lower the need for more invasive surgeries.

How often should I have my eyes checked for glaucoma?
Regular eye examinations are crucial for detecting glaucoma early, especially if you're over 40 years of age or have a family history of the condition. The frequency of these exams will depend on your risk factors and current eye health. Typically, a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years is recommended, but your ophthalmologist at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa may advise a different schedule based on your individual needs.

Can lifestyle changes help manage glaucoma?
While lifestyle changes alone cannot cure glaucoma, they can play a supportive role in managing the condition. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding excessive caffeine can help control eye pressure. Additionally, wearing eye protection to prevent injuries and quitting smoking can also contribute to better overall eye health. It's important to discuss any lifestyle changes with your ophthalmologist to ensure they complement your prescribed treatment plan.

Take Control of Glaucoma

At inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa, we regularly have consultations with individuals living with glaucoma to support them in managing the disease. It’s crucial to know that getting a diagnosis and treatment in the early stages can help keep your symptoms under control. If you have glaucoma symptoms, a family history of glaucoma, or a current glaucoma diagnosis, we invite you to set up an exam at our Tuscaloosa, AL facility.

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