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3477 Grand Avenue, Gurnee, IL 60031

Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma Lake CountyGlaucoma is a condition that affects one or both eyes. It is associated with damage to inner parts of the eye (optic disc) and loss of vision. The amount of vision loss will depend on the severity and how long the condition has been present. We offer several glaucoma procedures to treat our patients.

What causes glaucoma?

Many factors play a role in the development of glaucoma. However, the primary factor is intraocular pressure (IOP). There is gel-like fluid inside the eye called aqueous humor. This fluid helps to shape and keep the eye healthy. It also causes a small amount of pressure inside the eye. Sometimes this pressure can get too high; this is called ocular hypertension (OH).

A person can have OH and not have any loss of vision. But over time, this high pressure can begin to damage sensitive parts of the eye. This may lead to vision loss. Once damage starts to occur, the person is said to have glaucoma.

It is important to note that glaucoma can be caused by many factors other than IOP. Some people may get glaucoma but never have a high IOP. Your doctor can help explain all the causes of glaucoma.

How is glaucoma and ocular hypertension diagnosed?

Ocular hypertension (OH) is diagnosed by actually measuring the IOP of each eye. This is done with a machine that uses a special tool or a quick burst of air to measure the pressure in your eye. Once the doctor knows what your IOP is, he/she will do an eye examination and other tests. This is to see if any loss of vision has occurred. It also will help show if there is any damage to the internal parts of the eye.

The doctor will also use information about any family history of glaucoma, medicine use, and your past medical history.

What should my IOP be?

The goal IOP for each person is different. Only your doctor can determine what yours should be. An IOP reading above 21 mmHg is typically considered high.

Are there different types of glaucoma?

Yes. Most people with glaucoma have a type called primary open-angle glaucoma or POAG. POAG has no known cause and typically will not have any noticeable symptoms early on. Over time, people with POAG may slowly lose their eyesight.

A second type of glaucoma is called normal tension glaucoma. This occurs when a person has glaucoma but their IOP is in the"normal" range.

A third type of glaucoma is called angle-closure glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, the pathway that allows the liquid in the eye to drain becomes partially blocked. This results in a high level of pressure in the eye. At times, this pathway can become completely blocked (called an attack). When an attack happens, a person can experience severe pain, blurred vision, and possible permanent damage to their eyesight.

There are other types of glaucoma and your doctor can tell you more about each type.

Are there risk factors for glaucoma?

Certain factors can increase a person's risk of developing glaucoma.A few of these risk factors are:

  • Age over 50.
  • Very high IOP.
  • Thin cornea (an outer layer of your eye).
  • African Americans over age 40.
  • Individuals with other health conditions, such as diabetes.

Your doctor can determine if these or other risk factors are present.

How is glaucoma and ocular hypertension treated?

At this time, the main goal of treatment is to reduce IOP. By lowering the IOP, it is possible to slow the progression of glaucoma. Topical medicines applied to the eyes are the most common treatment used today. They are often in a liquid form and a person will apply one or more drops to the affected eye(s) each day. These topical medicines work one of two ways. They either decrease the amount of liquid formed in the eye or the medicine will increase the outflow of liquid from the eye. Both actions work to lower the amount of liquid in the eye, which decreases IOP.

Surgery is another treatment option. Similar to the action of topical medicines, surgery (trabeculectomy) works by increasing the outflow of liquid in the eye to lower IOP. A laser treatment (SLT) is now available to reduce the IOP, also.

Your doctor can tell you more about each option and determine which is best for you. Click here to learn more about our glaucoma procedures.



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