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Glaucoma

Often called the “thief of sight,” glaucoma typically produces no obvious symptoms, but can result in vision loss. 

Understanding Glaucoma and Its Effect on Your Vision

Glaucoma refers to a group of related conditions that can damage the optic nerve. Glaucoma is typically associated with high intraocular pressure (IOP), or the pressure inside of the eye. According the National Eye Institute, about 2.2 million Americans suffer from glaucoma. The condition is a leading cause of blindness in older adults.

Video: Glaucoma Condition

Dr. Andrew Bainnson gives a brief overview of glaucoma. He discusses the two different types of glaucoma, and the groups of people who are most at risk. He explains treatment options and management strategies.

Types, Diagnosis, and Causes of Glaucoma

closeup of woman's eye

Types

There are two major types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and closed-angle, or angle-closure glaucoma. POAG is the most common form of glaucoma and can develop over a number of years. In angle-closure glaucoma, IOP increases rapidly before the eye drains, which can cause damage to the optic nerve. Congenital glaucoma occurs in children. Secondary glaucoma results from a preexisting health condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes. In some causes, glaucoma can develop without high intraocular pressure. This is known as low- or normal-tension glaucoma. 

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Diagnosis

During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will use a number of methods to detect glaucoma. Applanation tonometry is often used to measure IOP. After numbing the surface of your eye, a small probe will press against your cornea, and the resistance of the cornea will indicate your IOP. Your eyes will be dilated, allowing your doctor to check for signs of optic nerve damage, and a visual acuity test can screen for any changes to your vision. Early diagnosis and intervention is the best way to ensure the success of your treatment.

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Causes

In a healthy, functioning eye, canals drain a fluid called aqueous humor from inside the anterior chamber of the eye, allowing IOP to remain normal. Glaucoma develops when these canals cannot drain properly, resulting in an increase in pressure inside the eye. Although ocular hypertension does not necessarily cause optic nerve damage and vision loss, it is a risk factor for glaucoma and should be monitored closely. Your chance of developing glaucoma is higher if you are over the age of 60, African American, diabetic, or have a family history of the disease.

Treatment Options, Cost of Glaucoma Surgery, and Treatment Results

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Treatment Options

Glaucoma treatment is recommended based on the type of glaucoma the patient is experiencing, and its severity. POAG can be treated with eye drops. In the case that eye pressure needs to be relieved more quickly (to treat closed-angle glaucoma, for example), laser surgery may be recommended to manually open the drainage canals. For more severe or aggressive cases of glaucoma that have not responded to other treatments, your surgeon can create a tiny flap on the surface of the eye, allowing fluid to be drained, lowering IOP. Another surgical option involves placing a valve in the eye, allowing fluid to drain.

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Cost of Glaucoma Surgery

Total treatment cost varies from patient to patient. The cost of your glaucoma surgery will depend on a variety of factors, including which surgical method your doctor recommends, the type of anesthesia used, and any medications you receive before or after your procedure. Your doctor will discuss the cost of your procedure in detail during a consultation. 

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Treatment Results

Vision loss resulting from glaucoma cannot be reversed, but treatment can slow the effects of the disease and help protect your remaining eyesight. The results of your treatment will depend on how early intervention was initiated, as well as the progression of the disease. Our goal is to protect and preserve your eyesight, and choosing an experienced eye doctor is the most importance decision you can make to ensure the success of your treatment. 

50 Years
Of Service
to Long Island Residents North Shore Eye Care was founded by Dr. Sidney Martin in 1962