A glaucoma diagnosis, like that of any condition, can be scary. At Grand Rapids Ophthalmology, you are in capable, caring hands of specialists that not only utilize the latest technology but also has several decades’ of experience in the treatment of glaucoma. We will ensure that every step of your journey, from diagnosis to treatment will be as proficient as possible.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve, which is responsible for processing the images you see and sends them to your brain. When the optic nerve becomes damaged, it can cause gradual vision loss. Because of this, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and often is not detected until the damage has begun to occur. This has earned glaucoma the nickname “the sneaky thief of sight.” If you have a family history of glaucoma, we encourage you to have regular eye exams to detect the onset of this eye disease before it becomes vision threatening.
What it’s like to see with glaucoma.
How Do You Develop Glaucoma?
Glaucoma occurs due to a build-up of pressure in the eye. This pressure imbalance happens when the fluid that fills your eye, called the aqueous humor, doesn’t drain properly for one of two reasons: either the angle of drainage is open but fluid drains through the eye too slowly, or the angle is closed, and fluid builds up because it’s blocked. The former causes open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type of glaucoma and often happens as a result of aging.
Who Gets Glaucoma?
There are a few factors that can put you at risk for glaucoma. These include:
- Age, (People over the age of 60 are more at risk.)
- Eye Trauma
- Corticosteroid use (hydrocortizone, prednisone)
- Family history of glaucoma
- Race (African-Americans are more likely to get Glaucoma)
If you’re over 60 or exhibit any of these other risk factors, it’s even more important than usual to have regular eye exams. Glaucoma usually shows no symptoms until you experience vision loss. At that point, any vision loss is permanent and cannot be restored. Thus, the best way to prevent damage to your optic nerve is to have glaucoma diagnosed early with regular and thorough eye exams.
What Are the Best Glaucoma Treatment Options?
While any vision loss that has already occurred due to glaucoma is irreversible, there are a few methods available to treat glaucoma. These methods work to reduce eye pressure, as well as slow down or prevent optic nerve damage. They include:
Eye drops are one of the most common ways to treat glaucoma. These drops come in a variety of formulas that are designed to reduce intraocular pressure. They do this by limiting the production of aqueous humor or by promoting better outflow.
Like all glaucoma medications, you must have a prescription for these drops. Your specialist at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology will recommend what’s best for you. We are fortunate to have Drs. Kenyon Kendall, Marcus Muallem, and Ronald Swendris as our glaucoma specialists at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology. All three of these eye doctors are fellowship-trained in glaucoma.
One major drawback to eye drops is that the patient is required to use them continually in order to prevent loss of vision. Some people are more comfortable than others with the idea of having to use eye drops for the rest of their lives.
There are surgical options to treat glaucoma that can reduce or eliminate the need for eye drops. These treatment options are determined by the surgeon based on the patient’s eyes.
The most common procedure for the treatment of glaucoma is the surgical insertion of a shunt. A shunt is a small medical device that helps fluid flow out of the eye. Here at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology, we offer the smallest FDA-approved shunt available today, the iStent Trabecular micro-bypass stent.
This device is so small that most patients report not being able to tell that it’s present, but is still extremely effective, often reducing or eliminating the need for eye drops. It’s also implanted in a simple, minimally invasive, out-patient procedure. The iStent offers ease and comfort to the patient.
If you want the most out of your glaucoma care and treatment, come see us. With locations throughout West Michigan, Grand Rapids Ophthalmology is the choice for patients who want the most advanced techniques for glaucoma treatment and surgery.
Drs. Kendall, Muallem, and Swendris stay at the forefront of glaucoma technology and procedures. Why wouldn’t you want to put yourself in the best hands possible when it comes to glaucoma treatment in West Michigan?