Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for adults in the United States over age 60. Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve, the large cable that carries the vision signal from your eye to your brain. Over time, glaucoma damage can cause loss of peripheral (side) vision, and even total blindness.
There are several causes of glaucoma. Most glaucoma is caused by the eye having too much eye pressure. This is called Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma (POAG). It develops slowly over many years.
African-Americans and those with a family history of POAG are at increased risk for this type of glaucoma.
You can’t feel most types of glaucoma, which is why it’s important for adults over 40 to have annual eye exams. Your eye doctor will check your eye pressure and the condition of your optic nerve at these exams.
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your eyes may require treatment to lower your eye pressure. This can be accomplished with medicated eye drops, laser treatment, and/or eye surgery.
Glaucoma Laser Treatment
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is a painless laser treatment for glaucoma. The SLT laser does not cause scarring or damage to the drainage structures inside the eye, unlike some of its predecessors.
Studies have shown SLT to be extremely safe, comfortable, and effective for lowering eye pressure to treat glaucoma. Most patients are able to reduce or eliminate the need for glaucoma eye drops after having SLT. It only takes a few minutes to perform the procedure in the office.
One SLT treatment can remain effective for up to 5 years. Since there is no scarring, the treatment can be repeated if necessary.
Images courtesy of Christian Bier and myupchar.com.
Optic nerve with advanced glaucoma damage