Glaucoma Is Not A Singular Disease

Glaucoma Is Not A Singular Disease

Glaucoma Is Not A Singular Disease

Glaucoma Is Not A Singular Disease

Glaucoma Is Not A Singular Disease

March 19, 2024

Glaucoma is not a singular disease, but a group of diseases that all cause vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve which connects the eyes to the brain. The optic nerve is damaged due to lack of blood flow and mechanical stress, often due to increased pressure in the eye. This damage leads to progressive vision loss that will continue to get worse until treatment to lower the pressure in the eye is instituted.  Vision that is lost due to glaucoma is permanent and cannot be reversed. 


Because the changes in vision happen so slowly, early glaucoma has little to no symptoms. Half of people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it.  A yearly comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure early detection of this disease. This allows us to begin treatment sooner and avoid serious impacts on your vision. 


Anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk. It is helpful to be aware of these risk factors: 

  • Age over 55
  • Black, Asian, or Hispanic heritage
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, migraines, and low or high blood pressure 
  • Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Use of corticosteroids for extended periods 


Types of Glaucoma


There are many different types of glaucoma. The two primary forms are known as open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle is the most common and typically develops slowly. Symptoms are typically subtle and by the time they appear, at least some irreparable damage to your vision will have already occurred. 


Angle-closure happens suddenly, and pressure quickly builds up within the eye due to a blockage in the eye’s drainage system. This sudden rise in eye pressure causes severe eye pain, blurred vision, headaches, and nausea with vomiting. Emergency treatment is required to preserve your vision. 



Diagnosing Glaucoma


We conduct glaucoma screening on all of our routine eye exams. This screening serves as information-gathering to determine if your eyes are at high risk for developing glaucoma. If your risk is elevated, due to your screening findings or due to a family history of glaucoma, you may be asked to return for additional testing. This testing uses specialized equipment to measure the pressure, image the optic nerve, and assess your visual field.


  • An IOP Measurement

    This is a test sometimes called “tonometry” and measures the intraocular pressure (IOP) inside the eyes. Although this test can indicate glaucoma, eye pressure can vary during the day so other assessments are also needed.

  • Visual Field Testing

    In patients with glaucoma, it is the peripheral vision that is affected first. We will conduct visual field testing to determine if there are any blind spots in your field of vision.

  • Retina Imaging/ Optical Coherence Tomography 

    We use a specialized imaging instrument to examine your retina and optic nerve for damage caused by glaucoma. We monitor these images for changes that can indicate active glaucoma.



Treatment for Glaucoma


There are several different treatments for glaucoma and the type you will be offered will depend on the type of glaucoma you have and the severity of your condition.

Initially, you will probably be offered medicated eye drops to help lower the pressure inside your eyes. If these prove ineffective, or if you are intolerant to the medication, you may be referred for surgery. This normally involves improving the drainage from the eye so that the fluid can flow out more effectively. Surgery may be combined with medication to achieve the best results.

For more information about glaucoma, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our experienced and knowledgeable eye care specialists at East Main Vision Clinic in Puyallup, Washington at (253) 444- 2800 today!

East Main Vision Clinic