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Glaucoma Testing and Treatment

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve which runs from the back of the eye to the visual center in the brain. When this crucial structure is damaged, the relay of visual information is disrupted, and you can’t see properly.

How Does Glaucoma Testing Work?

To screen for glaucoma, your eye doctor will look for the primary symptoms of this ocular disease: increased eye pressure. While abnormal intraocular pressure is a key indicator of glaucoma development, it is not the only criteria for diagnosis. An exam of the retina – either by dilation or a computer based retina scan – will reveal more information about the development of glaucoma.

A comprehensive eye exam usually includes at least one glaucoma test.

  • Puff test: Even though the burst of air blown across the surface of the eye is only minimally uncomfortable, the puff test has become the most dreaded tests associated with routine eye check-ups. It is also called NCT, or non-contact tonometry.
  • Non-puff test: Another screening tool, which requires numbing eye-drops, actually touches the surface of the eye to measure pressure.
  • Retina exam: The optometrist will also need to examine your retina for signs of damage to the optic nerve, because this is the true indication of glaucoma.

Treatment for Glaucoma

The first line of treatment is a medicated eye drop that lowers the intraocular pressure (IOP) associated with glaucoma. The drop is used nightly, and can prevent damage to the eye. This is something that must be continued for the rest of a person’s life, because non-compliance is one of the major causes of glaucoma related blindness.

There are alternative – more invasive – treatment options, for those who are unwilling or unable to use the drops, or for more severe cases that may not be responding well to them.

Glaucoma surgery can be conducted using a scalpel or a laser. Either way, the goal is to decrease the amount of intraocular fluid, by reducing production or increasing drainage. Decreasing the fluid effectively stabilizes IOP and prevents damage to the optic nerve.

Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief of sight” because it causes severe eyesight damage without symptoms. Once vision loss is noticeable, it’s too late to recover, but glaucoma is preventable with early intervention. That’s why a yearly comprehensive eye exam which includes glaucoma screening is so important!

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Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!

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