More About Glaucoma

Portrait of a Senior hiker standing next to the mountain creekIn August’s first blog we got into some basics about glaucoma, the vision-stealing disease that can sneak up on a person, causing vision loss before you have any symptoms or signs. 

In this second blog, let’s get into more detail, including surgeries we may use at Wilkinson Eye Center to treat a patient’s glaucoma. 

What are the types of glaucoma? 

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma (also called closed-angle or narrow-angle glaucoma). 

  •     Primary open-angle glaucoma

This is the most common type of glaucoma. It builds gradually, as the eye fails to drain fluid normally. As the fluid builds, the pressure in the eye increases. This starts to damage the optic nerve. In some people, their optic nerves are more sensitive to normal eye pressure; this elevates their risk of getting primary open-angle glaucoma. 

  •     Angle-closure glaucoma

This type of glaucoma happens when the iris is very close to the drainage angle in the eye. The iris can then block the drainage angle. Kind of like a partially covered drain. If the drainage becomes fully blocked, the pressure in the eye builds very quickly. This is known as an acute attack, and this demands immediate attention or the person can go blind. 

Is glaucoma painful? 

Glaucoma is not painful. That is one of the more sinister components of this disease. People don’t feel anything, and their vision doesn’t change initially despite the fact that the glaucoma is causing permanent damage. Again, this is why regular eye exams are so important, as Dr. Wilkinson and our team at Wilkinson Eye Center can spot glaucoma early on and we can manage the pressure in your eyes. 

How is laser surgery used to treat glaucoma? 

Dr. Wilkinson and Dr. Smith use lasers in the treatment of glaucoma in these three areas: 

  •     Trabeculoplasty — In primary open-angle glaucoma, laser energy is used to open blocked portions of the trabecular meshwork, which is the area that allows fluid to drain from the eye. In glaucoma, this meshwork is either blocked or is significantly hampering drainage.
  •     Iridotomy — In angle-closure glaucoma, the angle between the iris and the cornea in the eye is too small. This causes the iris to block fluid drainage, increasing inner eye pressure. In laser iridotomy, a small hole is made in the iris, allowing it to fall back from the fluid channel, helping the fluid drain.
  •     Cyclophotocoagulation — Here laser energy is used to hamper the ciliary body’s ability to make fluid. This lowers eye pressure.

Is it time for your next regular eye exam? These regular exams are key to spotting the earliest possible signs of glaucoma. Give us a call at Wilkinson Eye Center, (248) 334-4931, to make your appointment.

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