Glaucoma is a disease of the eye which was vaguely described by the ancient Greeks. Today, we know that damage is caused to the eye by just enough pressure inside the eye to cause that damage. The amount of pressure needed to cause glaucomatous damage can be variable from person to person depending on internal and external factors. We say that normal eye pressure ranges between 10 and 21 but there are some with glaucoma who have pressures of 12 and there are some who never show any damage from glaucoma even with pressures of 30. Many people would be treated even without signs of damage if the pressure of the eye were over 30.
Normally, aqueous humor is fluid produced by the ciliary body just posterior to the iris root (the iris is the colored part of the eye which has the black pupil in the center) and flows under the iris, through the pupil, into the anterior chamber (or front of the eye) and out through the trabecular meshwork (which makes a complete circle) and into the bloodstream.
There are many varieties of glaucoma:
Persons of African and Hispanic descent tend to have open-angle glaucoma more frequently. Glaucoma is seen in about 2-3% of the population and more frequently after the age of 40. The older one is, the greater the possibility of getting glaucoma. Fifty percent of people who have glaucoma are not aware that they have it.
The diagnosis of glaucoma is made on the basis of having two of four parameters:
These tests are painless and take only a few to several minutes. The visual fields actually record if any vision is lost. Photographs of the optic nerve heads or optic discs are also taken very easily with the latest digital cameras. Monitoring glaucoma is usually every 3-4 months. Some people are monitored every 4-6 months because of high eye pressure but have no eye damage and are not treated.
This photo shows changes in optic nerve cupping as glaucoma progresses. The nerve rim is composed of nerve fibers which are gradually lost, resulting in an increase in the size and depth of the central cup or excavation of the nerve.
We use the Heidelberg retinal tomography, computerized visual field analysis, and instantaneous stereo optic nerve photos to asses the health of the optic nerve and monitor the efficacy of treatment.
In most cases glaucoma can be controlled with eye drops. When this is not practical or effective we offer in-office laser treatment; painless three minute laser trabeculoplasty, so that in most cases glaucoma surgery can be avoided. The doctors at Physicians Eye Care and Laser Center have the expertise and latest technology to diagnose and treat all forms of glaucoma. The key is early detection and treatment.
For more information on Glaucoma, visit the Glaucoma Research Foundation's website: