Glaucoma FAQs

Glaucoma FAQs

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye caused by increased pressure in the eyeball. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss or even blindness. Glaucoma is a lifelong disorder that can be managed, but not cured.


What parts of the eye are involved in glaucoma?

Vision loss from glaucoma results from three parts of the eye: the optic nerve, the ciliary body and the angle of the anterior chamber.


How is intraocular pressure related to glaucoma?

Most glaucoma cases are caused by an increase in intraocular pressure. This could be caused by an overproduction of liquid or insufficient drainage of fluid within the eye.


Are there different types of glaucoma?

There are many types of glaucoma. The two main types are open-angle and angle closure glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form seen in northern Wisconsin and typically progresses slower than closed angle glaucoma. Symptoms and vision loss may not be noticed until permanent damage has occurred. Closed-angle glaucoma is less common and develops quickly. Symptoms, such as pain and vision loss, are noticeable and call for immediate medical attention.


What is the optic nerve?

The optic nerve is the part of the eye that transmits information from the retina to the brain. Deterioration of the optic nerve is the usual cause of permanent vision loss with glaucoma. Damage to the optic nerve is detected by an ophthalmologist using instruments to view the back of the eye, as well as other technology based tests.


What is visual field loss?

Visual field loss means that the space or range within which objects are visible has decreased. This can be caused by glaucoma. As the optic nerve is damaged, loss of visual field progresses as well.


What is intraocular pressure?

Intraocular pressure refers to the pressure caused by fluids inside the eye. Pressure is necessary for the eye to maintain its proper shape and function. However, when the pressure increases, the risk for glaucoma does, too.


What is included in the ophthalmic examination for glaucoma?

An ophthalmic exam for glaucoma includes a complete medical and ocular history and exam. Particular attention is paid to the anterior chamber angle, the optic nerve, and the visual field. An ophthalmologist at BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists will use special tools to examine these structures.


How is glaucoma associated with ocular trauma?

Ocular trauma may cause glaucoma immediately or years after the injury. The most common cause is an injury that does not penetrate the eye. This can alter the drainage system within the eye.


What is pigmentary glaucoma?

Pigmentary glaucoma is caused by pigment cells shed from the back of the iris and floating around in the aqueous humor. An abundance of the pigment cells can create a blockage of the trabecular meshwork. This can cause a drainage problem, and in turn can result in increased pressure in the eyes.


What is neovascular glaucoma?

Diabetes mellitus and other vascular disorders can damage the retina; in turn, they are both commonly associated with neovascular glaucoma. Neovascular glaucoma can form after tiny new vessels develop on the iris and into the anterior chamber angle. This can lead to a blockage of the aqueous humor, which increases intraocular pressure.


What is congenital glaucoma?

The disorder is present at birth but may not be apparent until early childhood. The disease is rare but the impact on visual development can be extreme. It is said to be caused by the abnormal formation of the anterior chamber angle, which is where eye fluid is drained. An obstruction of the outflow increases eye pressure.


How is glaucoma treated?

Nerve damage and vision loss resulting from glaucoma cannot be reversed. However, glaucoma can usually be controlled with help from an ophthalmologist. The objective of treatment is to lower intraocular pressure. There are three methods available: medical or eye drops, laser, and surgical.


What laser therapy is available for open-angle glaucoma?

Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is available to treat open-angle glaucoma.


How are lasers used to treat angle closure glaucoma?

A laser is used to make a small hole in the iris. This can balance the pressure between the posterior and anterior chambers and allow the iris to return to its normal anatomic position.


What surgical therapy is available for glaucoma?

There are two types of glaucoma surgery - laser surgery and conventional surgery. Laser surgery includes a focused beam of light to treat the eye's drainage system. This will increase the flow of fluid out of the eyeball. Conventional surgery is the second option. During surgery, an ophthalmologist will create a small hole to increase drainage.


What is trabeculectomy or filtering surgery?

Trabeculectomy or filtering surgery is a surgical procedure that forms an artificial drainage system for glaucoma patients. This helps form a more normal flow of fluid through the eyeball.


How often should a person with glaucoma see an ophthalmologist?

Patients with glaucoma require regular visits to manage the chronic disease. The ophthalmologist will be closely monitoring the patient's visual field, since it is the most precise measurement of visual function in glaucoma. Once the diagnosis and treatment plan is in place, patients often need 3-4 appointments each year. Frequency of visits is adjusted with the degree of damage or severity of disease.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.