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Seeing the Truth: Discussing Glaucoma with Dr. Close

Friday, January 29, 2016 9:35 AM

There are an estimated 200,000 cases of glaucoma in the United States per year. While it cannot be cured, there are treatment options available to help alleviate symptoms. Early detection is key with glaucoma, Troy Close, MD, Ophthalmology at NorthShore, explains. Knowing your family health history and scheduling regular eye exams are helpful with early detection.

Dr. Close answers some common questions about glaucoma below:

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that causes damage to the optic nerve and worsens over time. Glaucoma can occur when there is increased pressure in the eye. This happens when the eye fluid does not circulate properly through the front part of the eye. When the fluid builds up, this creates a pressure and can damage the optic nerve. If this pressure continues over time, it can create permanent vision loss and even blindness. 

What are the symptoms?

Most people who have glaucoma do not experience any early symptoms. If you experience any of these coming symptoms of glaucoma, seek immediate medical care:

  • Worsening pressure in the eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Tunnel vision/narrowed vision
  • Redness in the eye
  • Vision loss
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Nausea or vomiting 

What are increased risk factors for to developing glaucoma?

  • People over the age of 40
  • Anyone with family history of glaucoma
  • Previous health problems –for instance, diabetes or other eye diseases
  • Various medications – such as prednisone or other steroids
  • Previous trauma to the eye(s)
  • Poor vision
  • People of African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit or Scandinavian descent

How is glaucoma detected?

There are a few tests that can be done to detect glaucoma. During your appointment, your doctor can do a dilated eye exam; a tonometry exam, which measures the pressure inside an eye; or a pachymetry exam, which measures the thickness of your cornea.

Are there any treatments available?

Glaucoma cannot be prevented. If it is diagnosed early and treated early, it may be controlled. There are prescription eye drops available and surgery to help preserve vision. Talk to your doctor if you have any history of glaucoma or diabetes.

When was the last time you saw your eye doctor? Just like with your primary care physician, annual eye exams are important preventative care measures.