AS A PRECAUTION, FURTHER TESTING IS NECESSARY to rule out any possibility of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve characterized by a specific pattern of the optic nerve and visual field damage. Elevated intraocular pressure is an important risk factor for the progression of glaucoma. Classifying you as a glaucoma suspect indicates that your intraocular pressure may be higher than normal and/or the appearance of the optic nerve in one or both eyes shows some evidence of suspicion in regard to glaucoma. Despite these signs, you are a glaucoma suspect because YOU DO NOT HAVE A PROVEN VISION LOSS.
The most important office examination components for a glaucoma suspect are to regularly monitor intraocular pressure, periodically study the appearance of the optic nerve and most importantly; plot the peripheral field of vision or visual fields. A visual field examination is the most accurate indicator of vision loss.
Having been diagnosed as a glaucoma suspect does not indicate you will develop glaucoma. It does indicate, however, that your chances of developing glaucoma are greater than someone who has none of these findings. If you have any questions or concerns as we continue to monitor your condition, please do not hesitate to ask. Glaucoma suspects may be monitored safely for years before needing treatment and in some cases patients may never need treatment. I strongly urge you that you keep all of our recommended reevaluation visits. These scheduled visits are the best way to ensure the least possible chance of vision loss.
Glaucoma - Primary Open Angle
Open angle glaucoma is a slowly progressive disease that causes decreased vision, ranging from only slight loss to absolute blindness. Both eyes are affected. There are no symptoms until loss of vision occurs, at which point the structures in the eye have already been substantially damaged.
Damage inside the eye occurs when there is an increase in the fluid pressure inside the eye. Normally, fluid is secreted into the eye to help nourish structures inside the eye. When drainage from the eye is reduced, pressure inside the eye increases. Increased pressure inside the eye causes damage by interfering with the blood supply in the small blood vessels serving the optic nerve. When the blood supply to the nerve is decreased, degeneration of the nerve and loss of vision result. Increased pressure on the nerve also damages the delicate tissue through which the nerve fibers pass from the retina. This causes damage to the nerve fibers and loss of vision.
People who have a family history of glaucoma, and those who are diabetic, nearsighted, or black have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Treatment is aimed at lowering the pressure inside the eye, in order to prevent further nerve damage. There are no set rules about when to begin therapy or which therapy to use. Eye medications are typically the first type of medication used. If they are not effective, oral medication or surgery is indicated. Using the medication as prescribed is extremely important in controlling the disease. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
Glaucoma - Acute Closed Angle
Angle closure glaucoma occurs when there is a sudden increase in fluid pressure inside the eye. Normally, fluid is secreted into the eye to help nourish structures inside the eye. When the drainage channel is blocked, fluid pressure increases, causing severe pain and loss of vision. Rainbow colored haloes are seen around lights, and the severe pain often causes nausea and vomiting. Patients who are pre-disposed to this condition generally have a narrow area through which the fluid drains, making it more easily blocked by the iris, the colored part of the eye.
Angle closure glaucoma requires immediate treatment. Every effort is made to reduce the fluid pressure in the eye, by using eye medication and oral medication. Laser surgery is used to make a small permanent hole in the iris, so that fluid can pass through to the drainage channel, even if the iris again blocks it. If this glaucoma is left untreated, permanent loss of vision occurs.