Glaucoma Treatment in Somerset
Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide. It is often referred to as the “silent thief of vision” because many people do not know they have it until it has significantly advanced. Sadly, vision lost to glaucoma cannot be recovered. However, with early detection and the expertise of a trusted Somerset ophthalmologist like Dr. Bradley J. Phillips, glaucoma can be managed and vision loss can be avoided.
Normally, fluid called aqueous flows continuously in and out of the anterior chamber, which is a space in the front of the eye. The fluid leaves the chamber through what is known as the drainage angle, located where the iris and the cornea meet. If this angle malfunctions or its meshwork becomes blocked, the fluid cannot properly drain out of the eye and instead it builds up, causing the intraocular pressure to rise. Dangerously high rises in pressure damage the optic nerve, which sends information from the retina to the brain. Peripheral vision is usually affected first, and as vision loss progresses it can lead to blindness.
There are two major categories of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma refers to cases where the fluid can access the angle but not drain out of it properly. It usually worsens gradually, slowly diminishing peripheral vision. By the time noticeable symptoms appear, the disease has likely progressed to the point that vision loss is irreversible. Narrow-angle glaucoma refers to cases where the angle is blocked and the fluid cannot reach it. Considered a medical emergency, narrow-angle glaucoma develops quickly, producing symptoms like eye pain, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Although glaucoma can happen to anyone, it is more likely to affect those over the age of 40 who have a family history of the disease, are of African-American or Hispanic backgrounds, or have diabetes and hypertension. If you are at a heightened risk of glaucoma, it’s important to have your eyes checked regularly, as eye doctors can detect early signs of the disease during an exam.
The Management and Treatment of Glaucoma
Typically the first line of defense against open-angle glaucoma is the use of special eyedrops. These drops are intended to either reduce the amount of fluid produced in the eye or improve the fluid’s output through the drainage angle, reducing intraocular pressure. Eyedrops should be used according to Dr. Phillips’ specific instructions.
Sometimes traditional or laser surgery is recommended as a standalone solution or in conjunction with the use of glaucoma eyedrops.
A laser procedure called laser trabeculoplasty uses laser energy to create several tiny burns on the drainage angle, to widen the holds in the meshwork and improve the outflow of fluid. If both eyes have glaucoma, usually one eye is treated at a time.
A conventional surgical procedure called a trabeculectomy may involve creating a new opening for fluid to drain from the eye. Like laser surgery, trabeculectomy is typically performed on one eye at a time.
Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
Dr. Phillips offers several minimally invasive treatment options to lower intraocular pressure and avoid damaging the optic nerve. These techniques can prevent the progression of glaucoma and reduce some of the risks associated with traditional surgery.
Minimally invasive treatment options include using Hydrus Microstents, which are tiny devices inserted into the eye to create an alternative drainage channel for fluid to escape. Alternatively, Dr. Phillips can use a special dual blade called the Kahook to create an opening in the meshwork to improve the outflow of fluid.
Dr. Phillips bases his treatment recommendations on the patient and the type and severity of his or her case.
Contact Dr. Bradley Phillips
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma and would like to explore your treatment options, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Phillips. Call or email our office today to make an appointment.