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Glaucoma – The Silent Threat to Vision
by Christopher M. Spearman, M.D.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure within the eye. This increased pressure, untreated, can cause damage to the optic nerve. Initially it is without symptoms, but as it progresses, it may start to decrease a person’s peripheral vision. Eventually it can affect the central vision, resulting in tunnel vision.

If left untreated, glaucoma ultimately may cause complete blindness. Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. Therefore, early detection and treatment is extremely important.

What is my risk of glaucoma?

Two percent of all Americans have glaucoma. The risk of glaucoma increases in those with a family history and also with increasing age. Other risk factors for increased eye pressure include eye infections, inflammation, diabetes, steroid medications, eye trauma, and more.

How is glaucoma treated?

There are three main categories of glaucoma treatment. These include eye drops, laser treatments, and surgery.
Traditionally, glaucoma is treated with eyedrops that lower the eye pressure.
A laser treatment, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT), is another treatment option. This is a painless treatment with minimal risk. It works on average for five years and can be repeated.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) is an emerging form of glaucoma treatment.

These procedures are often performed at the same time as cataract surgery and can help reduce the eye pressure and decrease the risk of glaucoma progression. These procedures are much safer than previous surgical procedures for glaucoma.

Ask your ophthalmologist for more information about these procedures and if they are a good option for your glaucoma treatment.

What can I do to reduce my risk of vision loss from glaucoma?

Since most forms of glaucoma are painless and initially without symptoms, the most important thing to do is schedule a routine eye exam with your eyecare provider. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that every person receives an eye exam by the age of 40. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed, and the earlier treatment is started, the less risk there is of vision loss from glaucoma. Glaucoma cannot be cured, but with proper management, the risk of significant vision loss can be reduced or eliminated.

For more information or to schedule an evaluation please visit www.scottandchristie.com or call (724) 772-5420 Cranberry or  (412) 782-0400 Fox Chapel.

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