What is Glaucoma?

Young happy lady talking with psychologist at clinic, session of rehab therapyWhen we perform regular eye exams at our two Wilkinson Eye Center locations, they include the test where we deliver a puff of air onto the lens of your eye. Not a gust of wind, as you could expect when sailing out on Lake Huron, but enough so that we can test the eye’s resistance. 

What does that test do? 

We’re checking for glaucoma. This tells our doctors if the intraocular pressure within your eye is within the normal range. If the pressure is higher than normal, you’re at risk for glaucoma. 

But what is this eye disease? In these two late summer Wilkinson blogs, let’s get into glaucoma and its treatment approaches. 

Glaucoma explained 

Glaucoma is a collective group of disorders that can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting information from what you are seeing to the brain for interpretation. When this nerve is damaged, your vision is impaired and as it worsens it can lead to complete vision loss. 

When a person has glaucoma, the intraocular pressure inside the eye is abnormally high. Pressure is needed inside the eye to keep the balance of fluids inside the eye, but glaucoma causes this pressure to increase, damaging the optic nerve. Fluid movement within the eye becomes irregular and builds up. 

Glaucoma and blindness 

As glaucoma progresses, the patient suffers increasing vision loss. If allowed to continue, this leads to total blindness. But this isn’t a given — early detection of glaucoma can greatly slow the advance of the disease. 

One vexing thing about glaucoma is that many patients have no symptoms when the disease is progressing. But at Wilkinson Eye Center, we can spot it immediately. That’s why routine eye exams are so important. 

Treating glaucoma 

Generally, treating glaucoma involves three possible strategies. The preferred treatment is the use of medicated eye drops that are formulated to reduce intraocular pressure. If that treatment is unsuccessful, laser surgery or microsurgery may be necessary. These surgeries either eliminate blockages or create new channels to help drain fluid from the eye, reducing the pressure. 

The best way to head off the effects of glaucoma is early detection. Schedule your next eye exam with the team at Wilkinson Eye Center, (248) 334-4931.

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