At The Eye Center of North Florida, our glaucoma specialists are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, a common eye condition that can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Our team of eye doctors is dedicated to providing personalized care to each patient.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that is typically caused by abnormally high eye pressure levels, which damages the optic nerve and, thus, causes permanent vision loss. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting information from the retina to the brain so you can see.
Since your eye is constantly creating fluid, this fluid must also consistently flow out of the eye in order to maintain healthy eye pressure levels. When the eye produces too much fluid or if there is an issue preventing proper drainage of fluid in the drainage channel of the eye, the eye pressure will rise.
There are different types of glaucoma. However, the most common type of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, causes little to no noticeable symptoms. The vision damage caused by glaucoma typically begins in the peripheral, which is not as noticeable as central vision changes. For this reason, regular eye exams are important.
Early detection and treatment of glaucoma are vital to preserving and protecting your vision.
What Are the Risk Factors for Glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma, which is why it is important to visit your eye doctor for regular eye exams. However, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent eye exams if you have certain risk factors to ensure that glaucoma is detected before you experience any vision loss.
One significant risk factor is age. Although anyone of any age can develop glaucoma, those over the age of sixty are at higher risk. Other factors that put you at greater risk are a family history of glaucoma and certain medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension. During your eye exam, your eye doctor at The Eye Center of North Florida will determine your risk level and will tell you how frequently you should have eye exams.
How Do Eye Doctors Diagnose Glaucoma?
Your eye doctor at The Eye Center of North Florida can diagnose glaucoma during a routine eye exam. Typically, eye doctors look for three things when determining whether or not someone may have glaucoma:
- Changes in the optic nerve
- Changes in peripheral vision
- Higher-than-normal eye pressure
To look for changes in your optic nerve, your eye doctor will perform a dilated eye exam. During a dilated eye exam, your eye doctor will thoroughly examine your optic nerve using a special microscope called a slit lamp. They will also test your eye pressure, which is called tonometry. If your eye doctor detects abnormalities in either one of these tests or both, they may also ask you to perform a visual field test.
A visual field test provides your eye doctor with a map of your vision and can show if you are experiencing any changes in your peripheral vision, even if you have not noticed any. If your eye doctor believes, based on a thorough examination, that you have glaucoma, they will likely start treatment right away to help prevent any vision changes.
What Are the Treatment Methods For Glaucoma?
At The Eye Center of North Florida, our glaucoma specialists, Dr. Paul Garland and Dr. Ben Enfield utilize a variety of treatment methods to help lower eye pressure, control glaucoma and prevent further vision changes.
Glaucoma Eye Drops
Prescription eye drops are often the first method of defense against glaucoma. These eye drops aim to lower eye pressure by either reducing the production of fluid within the eye or increasing the outflow of fluid.
Glaucoma eye drops must be taken consistently and on time to have maximum effect. In some cases, eye drops may have to be used in combination with other treatment methods in order to adequately lower eye pressure.
In some cases, a glaucoma specialist may recommend having a laser procedure called selective laser trabeculoplasty, also known as SLT, to help reduce eye pressure in those with open-angle glaucoma. During the SLT procedure, which is performed in the office, your eye doctor will use a laser in front of a microscope to help create a broader opening in the drainage channel of the eye to allow fluid to drain more efficiently.
At The Eye Center of North Florida, our glaucoma specialists are proud to offer minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, also known as MIGS, to glaucoma patients. MIGS, just as its name portrays, allows for minimal invasiveness compared to traditional glaucoma surgery.
The iStent is a tiny medical implant device that your glaucoma specialist can use during MIGS to help treat glaucoma. Once in place, the iStent will create an alternate channel for fluid to leave the eye, thus improving eye pressure levels.
Another MIGS procedure offered at The Eye Center of North Florida is the OMNI surgical system. During MIGS with the OMNI surgical system, your glaucoma surgeon will use this device to widen the natural drainage channel 360 degrees around the eye.
Both iStent and MIGS can help control glaucoma and prevent vision loss by helping to lower eye pressure. Another benefit of MIGS, is that they can typically be performed at the same time as cataract surgery.
Your eye doctor at The Eye Center of North Florida will determine which treatment method is best for you depending on the type of glaucoma you have, the severity of the condition, and the efficacy of previous treatment.
Do you want to learn more about glaucoma or have your eyes screened for the condition? Request an appointment at The Eye Center of North Florida in Panama City, FL, today!