WHAT IS GLAUCOMA and how can you treat it?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans and people from the Caribbean, and the simple way to prevent the devastating effects of glaucoma is to maintain regular eye visits.
“Eyesight or human vision is one of the most important senses,” Dr. Laroche said. “By protecting the eyes, people will reduce the chance of blindness and vision loss while also staying on top of any developing eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts.”
Dr. Laroche is a glaucoma specialist who takes patient education seriously. He wants people to be aware that glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinopathy can begin to surface between the ages of 40 and 70, and that any vision changes should be evaluated by your eye doctor immediately.“Over time, these diseases can lead to blindness, so it’s best to address them as soon as possible,” said Dr. Laroche. “We have new treatments with earlier surgical options that can help preserve (or restore) their vision with faster recovery times.”
What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a disease of the eye characterized by three components:
1) Damage and loss of the retinal ganglions cells and optic nerve described as cupping
2) Loss of visual field
3) Usually increased eye pressure (pressure may be normal at times)
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the world today. There are over three million people with glaucoma in the United States today and over 1 million do not even know it. There are over 80,000 people that go blind from glaucoma every year. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness in African-Americans and people from the Caribbean.
People at risk for glaucoma include the elderly, blacks, and people with elevated eye pressure primary relatives with glaucoma, persons with high myopia, high hyperopia, history of eye trauma, and diabetes. Blindness from glaucoma is insidious. In most cases, there is no pain, and the loss of vision occurs slowly from peripheral to central. The central reading vision is not affected until the end thus most people do not realize it until they have lost a substantial amount of their peripheral vision. In low or normal pressure glaucoma the central vision may be affected first.
In many cases, glaucoma optic nerve damage occurs from high eye pressure. Nerve damage can usually be stopped or slowed by lowering the eye pressure. Most glaucoma treatment, with medicines, laser, or conventional surgery, is designed only to lower the eye pressure. Some eyes with glaucoma optic nerve damage continue to deteriorate despite having the lowest possible eye pressures. It is not known why this happens. Intensive research around the world is now directed at understanding the cause of the damage in these patients and to develop new treatments to preserve the optic nerve.Many different eye disorders cause high eye pressure. After measuring the eye pressure, your ophthalmologist attempts to determine the cause of the elevation. Nearly always, some form of “clogging” or blockage of the drainage of internal fluid within the eye (aqueous humor) causes increased eye pressure. Since the eye continually produces this fluid, obstruction of the drainage causes the eye pressure to increase. Almost any eye disorder associated with aging, inflammation, bleeding, injury, tumor or even birth defects can raise the eye pressure. However, in most cases of glaucoma, the eye has no specific abnormality and is said to have primary open-angle glaucoma. In other cases, the eye may be unusually small or exhibit other minor shape abnormalities that cause closed-angle glaucoma. In closed-angle glaucoma, the drainage system is totally blocked instead of just being clogged. At least fifty different mechanisms have been described that can raise the eye pressure, but all produce similar damage of the optic nerve. All methods of treatment are designed to lower the eye pressure to a level that will prevent further optic nerve damage.