Glaucoma Facts


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye disorders that usually have few or no initial symptoms and eventually cause harm to the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain.  In most cases, glaucoma is associated with higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye (ocular hypertension) caused by blockage of the eye’s drainage channels. If untreated or uncontrolled, glaucoma first causes peripheral vision loss and eventually may lead to blindness.


Prevention is the Best Medicine

Glaucoma treatment is most successful in preventing sight loss when performed during the early stages of glaucoma.  Therefore, regular eye exams to detect glaucoma and other eye diseases are extremely important.


Glaucoma Symptoms

Glaucoma often is called the “silent thief of sight,” because most types typically cause no pain and produce no symptoms until noticeable vision loss occurs.  For this reason, glaucoma often progresses undetected until the optic nerve already has been irreversibly damaged, with varying degrees of permanent vision loss.

With acute angle-closure glaucoma, symptoms that occur suddenly may include blurry vision, halos around lights, intense eye pain, nausea and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, make sure you contact Center for Sight, or visit the emergency room immediately so steps may be taken to prevent permanent vision loss.


Argon Laser Treatment for Open Angle Glaucoma

Argon Laser Treatment is a successful alternative treatment if and when eye drops and medications fail to control the progression of glaucoma.  While eye drops and medications are usually the preferred initial treatment, some patients maynot tolerate the side effects, do not adhere to their medicine schedule, or do not see success with these treatments.

The development of Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty has signifimaytly reduced the need for conventional glaucoma surgery and has allowed for treatment of the disease at an earlier stage, before vision is lost.


What is Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty?

Laser light is used to reopen the blocked drainage channels and reduce the fluid pressure in the eye.  The laser light beam passes harmlessly through the eye and enlarges the out flow channel where it is focused.  80 to 100 tiny openings are made in the trabecular framework, the delicate structure where fluid normally exits the eye.

An outpatient procedure done in our office, ALT is painless and takes only a few minutes.  Anesthetic drops are used to numb the surface of the eye and a contact lens is applied.  This is used to precisely focus the laser on the drainage area.  During the procedure, you will see a bright light and may experience a slight tingling sensation.  However, you will return to normal activities almost immediately!


Will Eye Drops Still be Necessary?

In some cases glaucoma drops will still be required after laser surgery.  Unfortunately, glaucoma never goes away.  Its effects may only be arrested with proper treatment, including drops and medication, throughout life in order to prevent sight loss.