Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that in most cases produce increased pressure within the eye. A backup of fluid in the eye causes this elevated pressure. Over time, pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which in turn can lead to loss of vision. Glaucoma affects nearly 3 million people in our country alone. Through early detection, diagnosis and treatment, you and your doctor can help to preserve your vision.
Diagnosis revolves around careful examination of the various structures of the eye to determine the type of glaucoma that is present, with nearly 100 different varieties in existence. The most common types are called primary open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma. Measurements are taken of the intraocular pressure (IOP), corneal thickness, optic nerve size and shape, and nerve fiber layer. Nerve function and visual loss are tested with visual field testing.
Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, pills, laser surgery, traditional surgery or a combination of these methods. The goal of any treatment is to prevent loss of vision, as vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. The good news is that glaucoma can be managed if detected early, and that with medical and/or surgical treatment, most people with glaucoma will not lose their sight.
Cataract is the most common cause of loss of vision in the world. It is estimated that over 20 million Americans have at least some degree of cataract, with roughly 3 million surgeries for cataract performed in our country annually, with the number increasing yearly.
A cataract occurs when the natural crystalline lens within the eye clouds. This causes progressive blurring of the vision with other symptoms such as glare, trouble night driving, reading, and other visual tasks becoming increasingly difficult. The most common cause of this lens clouding is a natural function of aging, although other genetic conditions, medications, co-existing ocular or systemic illnesses, or trauma can all cause cataracts to occur. The growth of the cataract is painless and is noticed by the patient as it affects vision.
Your doctor diagnoses a cataract by measuring your vision both in a darkened room and by testing how glare conditions affect your eyesight. A dilated eye exam is performed to examine the lens directly, viewing the opacities density and location as well as to make certain that no other eye diseases are causing the decreased vision that is present.
The only treatment for cataract is surgical, where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant. Modern cataract surgery is truly a vast improvement from older techniques, allowing rapid recovery and quick restoration of sight. There are many different types of implants as well as techniques for performing the surgery and your doctor will discuss with you which surgical approach is best indicated for your individual situation and visual needs.