Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve within the eye. Optic nerve damage can eventually cause reduced vision or even total loss of vision. However, if you seek help early enough, it's often possible to prevent total vision loss. Dr. Jeff Jones, the ophthalmologist at Visionaire Eye Consultants in Castle Rock, Colorado, is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. The sooner you ask for help, the better the odds of saving your vision.
Glaucoma is a complex condition, but it's basically a disease affecting the optic nerve -- the cord at the back of your eye. It’s responsible for information transmission. Without a healthy optic nerve, your vision will decrease or even fail completely unless you seek treatment.
When you're born, you have about 1.5 million nerve fibers in each optic nerve. As you age, the nerve fibers within the optic nerve start to diminish. While normal and gradual nerve fiber loss doesn't affect your vision, glaucoma causes significant acceleration of this process. The result is partial -- and then total -- vision loss. Glaucoma begins with peripheral vision loss in most cases and eventually affects your central vision as well.
The risk factors for glaucoma include:
Many medical studies have shown a direct correlation between reducing IOP and slowing the progression of glaucoma. Normal IOP levels are somewhere between 9-21 mm Hg. However, it's possible to develop glaucoma even in this range. By lowering IOP even more, the progression of the disease can be slowed.
The most effective treatment for glaucoma is often topical eye drops that can lower IOP. These drops are prescribed by Dr. Jones and are typically used one or more times a day. If this treatment isn't sufficient, a laser procedure, called selective laser trabeculoplasty, can be performed. In some cases, a shunt must be surgically implanted to help lower IOP even more. The more involved treatments are often needed for cases of advanced glaucoma known as angle closure glaucoma.
Dr. Jones will monitor glaucoma in several ways, including: