Glaucoma Risks, Types & Exams

Glaucoma Risks, Types & Exams

Glaucoma is a chronic degenerative eye disease that is most commonly associated with an elevated pressure inside the eye-Intraocular Pressure (IOP)-that damages the optic nerve and causes loss of vision. More than three million Americans are living with glaucoma, 2.7 million of whom-aged 40 and older-are affected by its most common form, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) which begins without any symptoms or obvious loss of vision. It is critical to diagnose and treat glaucoma as early as possible through regular eye exams in order to prevent vision loss. With early detection, diagnosis & treatment, in the vast majority of cases, glaucoma vision loss can be controlled or prevented.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Your risk of developing glaucoma depends on your general health, eye health and family history. There are a number of factors that that may influence your likelihood of developing glaucoma, including

  • High Intraocular Pressure
  • Age-Risk increases after the age of 40 and is 6 times greater if you are over 60.
  • Race-African-Americans have a six to eight fold increased risk for glaucoma.
  • Myopia-Severely nearsighted people have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Family History-Any family history of glaucoma is considered a very significant risk factor.
  • Steroids-Taking steroid medication for allergies, asthma or arthritis
  • Early Menopause
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Thin Corneal Tissue
  • Eye Trauma

During your eye exam it is important to tell us if you think that have any of these glaucoma risk factors.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma which are called Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) and Angle Closure Glaucoma. Primary Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma whereby the production and/or drainage of fluid inside the front of the eye-called aqueous humor-is imbalanced, resulting in an elevation in eye pressure (IOP). This pressure deprives the optic nerve of oxygen and nutrients causing irreversible changes and damage, which, if left untreated, results in vision loss and ultimately blindness. Angle Closure Glaucoma accounts for about 10% of all cases of glaucoma and about 2/3 of these produce no symptoms for patients.  Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma is one of the only types of glaucoma that produces distinct symptoms that include pain, light sensitivity, redness, blurred vision, colored haloes around lights and nausea or vomiting. Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. If you experience a sudden onset of pain, redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, haloes around lights, nausea and vomiting, please call Duquette Family Eye Care at 401-769-6323 and relay these symptoms to the Patient Services Representative so that you can be given an appointment immediately. In the event that you are at risk for Angle Closure Glaucoma or in the event that you have Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma we may initially prescribe some medication to begin to lower the pressure but will also refer you for a type of glaucoma laser procedure called Laser Iridotomy to produce a small opening or hole in the Iris so that Aqueous Humor can drain from the eye more effectively.

Glaucoma Eye Exams & Diagnosis

During your routine eye exam, or as part of a special glaucoma testing visit, we may perform a number of tests in order to be able to provide early detection and make the most accurate diagnosis of glaucoma. These may include the following:

  • Tonometry-Intraocular Pressure (IOP) measurement.
  • Ophthalmoscopy-Examination of the optic nerve through a dilated pupil which may be performed using special instruments or a high magnification lens at the Slit Lamp Biomicroscope.
  • Visual Field Perimetry-A computerized examination to plot an actual map of the field of your vision.
  • Gonioscopy-Provides direct examination of the drainage structures of your eye-trabecular meshwork-using a specialized contact lens at the Slit Lamp Biomicroscope.
  • Computerized Imaging of Optic Nerve & Fibers-OCT uses a method called “optical coherence tomography” to create digital images with beams of light to examine the optic nerve and measure the retinal nerve fiber thickness.
  • Pachymetry Measurement of Corneal Thickness

From this testing we will be able to make a diagnosis and recommendations for additional visits and treatment as required. We will be sure to answer all questions you may have and help you understand how we will work together to help maintain your eye health & vision.