Glaucoma is a disease that can cause slow progressive and painless blindness. One typically loses side or peripheral vision first, with central vision affected only in end-stage glaucoma. Once lost, treatment cannot restore sight, it can only prevent further progression. Glaucoma may be hereditary; it can occur more often in African Americans and is also more common in diabetics. Regular screening after the age of 40 is recommended by an ophthalmologist.
An examination will reveal elevated eye pressure, abnormal optic nerve with a so-called enlarged “cup”, which is a depression in the center of the nerve head. A visual field test will reveal the extent of side vision loss.
Dr. Matzkin has the most advanced equipment to diagnose and monitor glaucoma. It is important to obtain baseline exams even in normal eyes. These are vision, pressure, corneal thickness, gonioscopy which is the evaluation of the eye drainage system, peripheral visual field, optic nerve photographs and optic nerve head analysis with 3D imaging (OCT or GDX).
One type of glaucoma called “narrow angle glaucoma” can cause sudden painful blindness. This can be diagnosed before it occurs with a careful examination. Treatment of this form is completely curative and involves an office laser treatment called a “Yag Peripheral Iridotomy” (PI).
Most other types of glaucoma are controlled with eye drops, more rarely with laser, oral medications or surgery.
Video courtesy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Glaucoma optic nerve cupping worse in one eye