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6 Glaucoma Myths Debunked

6 Glaucoma Myths Debunked 640×350Glaucoma can do a great deal of damage to your visual system if it goes undetected and untreated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about glaucoma symptoms, detection and treatment that cause people to wait to see an eye doctor until it’s too late to prevent vision loss. In this article, we debunk 6 common glaucoma myths.

Myth 1: Glaucoma testing is painful

The Truth: Glaucoma testing is basically painless.

The most commonly used first test for glaucoma is an air puff test. Your optometrist will ask you to place your chin on a chin rest and while looking at a small light, a quick, soft puff of air will be blown at your eye to test the pressure inside your eye. The test takes mere seconds and reveals a great deal of valuable information to your eye doctor about your risk of glaucoma.

Your optometrist may also use an OCT device to create a full-color 3D scan of the inside of your eye, and perform visual field testing to see if the eye pressure has caused any changes to your field of vision. Both these tests can detect damage to ocular structures caused by glaucoma. Both tests are completely non-invasive, as neither touch the eye.

If necessary, your eye doctor may use anesthetic eye drops as part of a Goldmann applanation tonometry test. While these drops may sting slightly for a few seconds, the rest of the test is completely painless. After the anesthetic is applied, your eye doctor will use a small probe and a blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea. This is an additional method to accurately determine the exact measurement of your inner-eye pressure.

Myth 2: Glaucoma cannot be prevented

The Truth: There are many steps a person can take to minimize their risk of developing glaucoma. They include:

  • Living a healthy lifestyle.

Research published in March 2016 in JAMA Ophthalmology has shown that a healthy diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables (especially the green leafy kinds) significantly reduces a person’s chances of developing glaucoma. Regular exercise helps as well, with experts suggesting that a regular routine of moderate to vigorous exercise may reduce risk by as much as 73%. Ask your physician about an appropriate exercise regimen for your age and body type. If you smoke, quitting could significantly lower your risk of glaucoma.

  • Having regular comprehensive eye exams. This one is especially important if you have a history of glaucoma in your family since glaucoma can be hereditary. Even if you don’t have a family history, regularly scheduled eye exams are important. Early detection of risk factors associated with glaucoma can put your optometrist on the lookout for subtle warning signs.
  • Protecting your eyes from injury. Severe eye injuries can significantly raise your risk of glaucoma. [Eye_doctors] recommend wearing protective eyewear any time you take part in activities where foreign objects may get in your eyes. This includes woodworking, soldering or working with any kind of paints or chemicals. Many sports, including baseball and racquetball, have a high incidence of eye injury.

Myth 3: There’s only one type of glaucoma

The Truth: There are several types of glaucoma. Each has its own causes and treatments.

The two most common types of glaucoma are open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma.

With angle-closure glaucoma, the structure in your eye responsible for the healthy outflow of fluid from the eye, known as the trabecular meshwork, becomes blocked. This prevents the outflow of fluid from the eye, elevating the intraocular pressure, damaging the ocular nerve and leading to vision loss.

This increase in eye pressure and nerve damage can occur suddenly or gradually over time. If a sudden spike in pressure occurs, the symptoms may include severe headache, nausea, vomiting, eye pain and seeing halos around lights.

Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the trabecular meshwork remains open, but there is still resistance to the outflow of fluid from the eye. This resistance creates a slow build-up pressure inside the eye, and just as in angle-closure glaucoma, damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly and shows no obvious symptoms until irreversible damage to your eyes and vision has occurred.

Myth 4: Once you have glaucoma, nothing can be done to help

The Truth: While it is true that there is no cure for glaucoma, optometrists do have a number of options to help lower intraocular pressure, reduce its impact and save your sight

Treatment usually starts with medicated eye drops and oral medications that either increase the outflow of fluid from the eye or decrease the amount of fluid your eye produces.

If these treatments don’t work, eye doctors may also recommend the surgical implantation of drainage tubes, laser therapy or minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.

Myth 5: Only older people get glaucoma

The Truth: It is true that people over 60 are at the highest risk for glaucoma. However, glaucoma can affect people at any age.

Even infants can develop glaucoma if they’re born with certain conditions or birth defects that affect the eyes.

Individuals who are more susceptible include:

  • People who have sustained a serious eye injury in the past
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetics and those suffering from conditions such as cardiovascular disease and sickle-cell anemia
  • Those taking steroid medications long-term
  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Asians (have a higher risk of closed-angle glaucoma)

Myth 6: You can’t have glaucoma if you don’t have symptoms

The Truth: Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, accounting for over 90% of all glaucoma cases. Unfortunately, this type of glaucoma shows no noticeable signs or symptoms until vision loss has occurred.

Since glaucoma tends to impact the peripheral (side) vision first, many people might not notice that their vision is gradually shrinking. This is why regular comprehensive eye exams are so important to ensure that glaucoma is caught early, and a treatment plan can be devised well before serious damage has occurred.

Glaucoma can be a devastating eye condition if not caught and treated as early as possible. To find out more about prevention and treatment of glaucoma and similar eye conditions, contact us today.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dana Kindberg

Q: Can smoking harm my eye health?

  • A: Yes. In multiple studies, researchers have found that the more cigarettes a person smokes each day, the higher their risks of developing glaucoma. Beyond glaucoma, smokers are also at a significantly higher risk of developing other eye diseases, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome.

Q: When should I consider glaucoma surgery?

  • A: Glaucoma surgery should be considered if your eye doctor has tried all other treatments, including prescription eye drops, oral medications and laser therapy, without success. Many types of glaucoma surgery exist. Ask your eye doctor to assess your condition and help decide which surgery is the best option to reduce your risk of vision loss, including blindness.Surgery cannot restore vision already lost because of glaucoma, but it can help protect the vision you still have and prevent your glaucoma from worsening.
Dana Kinberg Optometry serves patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Clyde Hill, Washington and surrounding communities.

What Causes Retinal Tears?

What Causes Retinal Tears 640×350The retina is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the inner back portion of the eye. It is responsible for gathering incoming light and sending images to the brain so they can be processed.

Retinal tears occur when the delicate tissue gets pulled, creating a hole or tear in the retina. They need to be taken seriously because they can lead to a more severe condition called retinal detachment, which is considered a sight-threatening medical emergency.

What are the Symptoms of Retinal Tears?

Patients with retinal tears will often experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Flashes of light
  • Sudden onset or increase of floaters
  • Seeing a shadow in your side vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing a gray curtain moving across your visual field

However, in some cases, retinal tears may not produce any noticeable symptoms.

What Conditions Can Cause Retinal Tears?

The eye is filled with a substance called vitreous. At birth, the vitreous is attached to the retina and has a gel consistency. As we age, the vitreous becomes more like a liquid and slowly detaches from the retina in a process called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).

Usually, this process occurs without any complications. If the vitreous detaches too suddenly or abnormally, it tugs on the retina and can tear it. Additionally, some people have a more “sticky” vitreous, which makes it easier for the retina to rip.

Another main cause of retinal tears is eye trauma. Blunt force eye trauma can cause the retina to become bruised or scarred, making it more vulnerable to tearing.

Other associated causes or risk factors of retinal tears include:

  • Diabetes
  • Personal or family history of retinal tears/detachment
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Certain cancers
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • High myopia
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Prior surgery within the eye

Be sure to disclose any relevant medical information to your eye doctor for optimal preventative eye care.

How are Retinal Tears Treated?

Retinal tears are typically treated surgically with a laser (photocoagulation) or cryotherapy. Both methods are considered very safe and effective.

These treatments reseal the retina to the back wall of the eye and prevent fluid leakage underneath the retina.

The prognosis of a retinal tear is very positive when caught early, making regular eye exams that include examination of the retina crucial for all adults.

In some cases of minor retinal tearing, no treatment is required. If the retinal tear causes no symptoms, close monitoring may be all that’s needed.

After Your Retinal Tear Has Been Treated

After treatment, your optometrist will schedule various eye exams in order to monitor any changes in your retinas or eye health. Inform your eye doctor immediately if you notice any changes in your vision or if you experience new symptoms that may signal a problem.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a retinal tear or is at risk of developing one, call to schedule a consultation.

serves patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Clyde Hill, Washington and surrounding communities.

References

What Is Excess Eye Fluid?

What Is Excess Eye Fluid 640×350Collagen, water and protein make up the majority of the human eye, and tears are always present to help keep the eye moist. However, surplus fluid can occasionally accumulate inside the eye and signal a serious eye problem.

Several factors may contribute to this problem.

There are two primary sources of fluid inside the eye. The first is needed to flush out waste products from behind the cornea, leading it to flow out from the eye through the anterior angle. The second type of fluid is found in blood vessels that nourish the retina and macula at the back of the eye.

Conditions that Cause Excess Eye Fluid

Several conditions can result in excess eye fluid, and each is managed and treated in its own way to prevent eye damage and vision loss. These conditions include:

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. Fluid build-up on the macula causes the wet form of macular degeneration, which affects central vision and the ability to see fine details. This usually occurs when very fragile new blood vessels form in the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid, made up of plasma and blood into the retina.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma develops when the eye’s drainage system becomes clogged, inhibiting the flow of fluid through the anterior angle and causing fluid to accumulate in the eye. Glaucoma can also develop when the eye produces more fluid than usual and is unable to drain it quickly enough. In both cases, as the fluid builds up inside the eye, the pressure inside the eye rises, potentially damaging the nerve fibers that send all our visual signals from the eye to the brain. The optic disc becomes hollow and cupped as a result of the injured nerves.

Glaucoma will progress if extra fluid continues to collect in the eye, and can lead to serious vision loss or blindness if left untreated.

Macular Edema

Macular edema occurs when there is a build-up of fluid in the macula. The macula is positioned in the middle of the retina, which is the neural tissue at the back of the eye that sends the light signals to the brain and allows you to see.

Damaged blood vessels in the retina cause fluid to accumulate in the macula. This leads to compromised vision, with common symptoms including blurred or wavy vision in the center of your field of vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema is a result of diabetic retinopathy. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy, based on the stage of the disease: nonproliferative retinopathy (when blood vessels in the retina enlarge and leak) and proliferative retinopathy (when abnormal new blood vessels form on the retina).

Blurred or double vision, as well as floating, dark patches in your vision, are all common symptoms of diabetic macular edema.

Central Serous Retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy occurs when fluid accumulates behind the retina. The fluid buildup is caused by leaking from the layer of blood vessels beneath the retina (choroid).

When the retinal pigment epithelium, the layer between the retina and the choroid, fails to function properly, fluid builds up behind the retina, causing the retina to detach and vision to be impaired. Symptoms include dimmed, distorted or blurred vision, as well as straight lines seeming crooked or bent.

Treatment for Excess Eye Fluid

Treatments often include reducing pressure produced by fluid buildup and treating the underlying cause of the buildup.

In diabetic macular edema, for example, your eye doctor will recommend treatment for your diabetes along with treatment for the retinal impairment that is causing fluid buildup.

In some circumstances, surgery may be required. For instance, glaucoma patients may require surgery to create a new opening from the eye through which fluid can drain. Certain medications can also assist in fluid drainage from the eye, which works to lower the pressure inside the eye or causes the eye to produce less fluid.

Intravitreal injection is a treatment used when there is a buildup of fluid in or under the retina. Anti-VEGF medications absorb fluid and stop fluid/blood from leaking out of blood vessels, which is a common occurrence in both macular edema and wet macular degeneration.

If you have signs of fluid buildup, it’s essential to promptly speak with your eye doctor. Treatment will be more successful once the underlying disease is identified.

Contact today. We’ll be happy to assist you in identifying the source of the problem and direct you to the appropriate treatment.

serves patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Clyde Hill, Washington and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dana Kindberg

Q: What is wet macular degeneration?

  • A: Wet macular degeneration is an eye disease that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in your visual field. It is caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the macula, the section of the retina responsible for central vision. Symptoms like visual distortions and increased blurred vision tend to appear suddenly and quickly worsen.

Q: What other conditions can cause excess fluid in the eye?

  • A: Other conditions that may cause excess fluid in the eye include:
  • Choroidal effusion – the buildup of fluid between the choroid, the sclera, and a layer of blood vessels on top of the retina.
    A retinal tear – may cause fluid to accumulate and lead the retina to detach.
    Chemosis – a swelling of the eye due to accumulation of fluid often caused by allergies or eye infection.


Sugar, Diabetes & Glaucoma – What’s the Connection?

Sugar, Diabetes Glaucoma 640Diabetes is a disease caused by the body’s inability to use or produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for taking sugar out of the blood and placing it into cells, where it is used to create energy. When the body can’t use or produce sufficient insulin, it causes sugar levels to rise too high.

A common complication for people with diabetes is diabetic eye disease, a group of sight-threatening eye problems. Glaucoma is one of these diseases.

In fact, having diabetes doubles your risk of developing glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide. It is caused by pressure build-up within the eye, which leads to permanent damage to the retina and the optic nerve.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to manage your condition in order to preserve your eyesight.

How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar rises too high, it can place stress on major organs, including your eyes and kidneys.

The vast majority of glaucoma cases present no symptoms until irreversible vision loss has occurred. Fortunately, your eye doctor can detect sight-threatening eye diseases early on by examining the retina and optic nerve. Left untreated, glaucoma can seriously impair your vision, or leave you partially or completely blind.

Importance of an Eye Exam

To limit the impact of diabetes on your vision, schedule regular visits to your eye doctor. This will enable your eye doctor to assess your eyes and diagnose any diabetes-related vision problems as early as possible. This can improve your chances of preventing or slowing the progression of glaucoma significantly.

If you have diabetes and are concerned about potential risks to your vision, contact to schedule an appointment. We can help preserve your vision before it’s too late.

serves patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue and Clyde Hill, Washington and surrounding communities.

Q&A

Q: Is there a cure for glaucoma?

  • A: There is no cure for glaucoma. However, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, the risks of vision loss can be significantly reduced. That’s why routine comprehensive eye exams are so important.

Q: What glaucoma treatments are currently available?

  • A: Your eye doctor will most likely prescribe glaucoma eye drop medications that reduce intraocular pressure. If the eye drops don’t work, laser or eye surgery may be the next step. Depending on the advancement of your glaucoma, surgery might be the first option for glaucoma treatment.