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Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve — the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable containing numerous wires. When damage to the optic nerve fibers occurs, blind spots develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results. Early detection and treatment by your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially for older people. But loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment.


How is glaucoma detected?

Regular eye examinations by your ophthalmologist are the best way to detect glaucoma. A glaucoma screening that checks only the pressure of the eye is not sufficient to determine if you have glaucoma. The only sure way to detect glaucoma is to have a complete eye examination.
During your glaucoma evaluation, your ophthalmologist will:
measure your intraocular pressure (tonometry);
inspect the drainage angle of your eye (gonioscopy);
evaluate whether or not there is any optic nerve damage (ophthalmoscopy);
test the peripheral vision of each eye (visual field testing, or perimetry).

Photography of the optic nerve or other computerized imaging may be recommended. Some of these tests may not be necessary for everyone. These tests may need to be repeated on a regular basis to monitor any changes in your condition.

 

Loss of vision can be prevented

Regular medical eye exams may help prevent unnecessary vision loss. Recommended intervals for eye exams are:
Age 20-29: Individuals of African descent or with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye examination every three to five years. Others should have an eye exam at least once during this period.
Age 30 -39: Individuals of African descent or with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye examination every two to four years. Others should have an eye exam at least twice during this period.
Age 40-64: Every two to four years.
Age 65 or older: Every one to two years.


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