Medical experts estimate that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half are aware they suffer from the dangerous disease. A lack of awareness and widespread misconceptions about glaucoma contribute to unnecessary loss of vision.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause blindness suddenly and without warning or symptoms. Many patients don’t notice any symptoms until the disease is advanced.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye. The front of the eye serves as an elaborate drainage system for fluid that is produced within the eye and that exerts pressure on the eye. Patients with glaucoma have an inefficient drainage system, which causes elevated intraocular pressure.
That excess fluid can slowly damage the optic nerve, a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers in the back of the eye responsible for carrying images to the brain. Optic nerve damage causes peripheral vision to slowly reduce, often without other symptoms, until only a narrowed tunnel of vision remains. Glaucoma may also displace blood vessels that run through the optic nerve. Because the optic nerve is not capable of regeneration, the damage that occurs is irreversible and vision loss is permanent. The damage can lead to blindness.
A less common type of glaucoma, angle closure glaucoma, causes acute symptoms, including headaches, nausea, severe eye pain, redness of the eye, blurred vision, and halos around bright lights. If you experience these symptoms, go to your doctor, a clinic, or the nearest hospital immediately. Without treatment to improve the fluid flow, a person can become blind in a day or two.
To diagnose glaucoma, your doctor will take a medical history, visual acuity test, measurement of intraocular pressure with a tonometer, and a dilated eye examination. If the eye pressure is above normal or if the optic nerve looks damaged, the doctor may perform a visual field test and a pachymetry that measures the thickness of the cornea.
Gonioscopy, a simple test performed in the ophthalmologist’s office, determines if the angle is narrow and abnormal. Treatment of angle-closure glaucoma involves laser surgery to remove a small portion of the outer edge of the iris. This relieves the blocked drainage channels. Usually, surgery is successful and effective.
Other types of glaucoma may be treated with prescription eyedrops, oral medications, laser treatment, or surgery. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment plan for your specific case.
It is important to have regular eye exams to check for silent and serious conditions like glaucoma.
What you can expect at the Cizik Eye Clinic
The Cizik Eye Clinic opened in 2007 and is housed in Memorial Hermann Plaza at 6400 Fannin Street. It includes dozens of exam areas, multiple operating rooms, and laser suites equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available for patient care.
People travel from across the country and the world for treatment at the Cizik Eye Clinic, in part because our affiliation with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth provides unmatched resources and expertise. Our friendly staff works diligently to make your visit pleasant and efficient, as we maximize patient flow through everything from routine eye exams to the most advanced eye surgeries.
Our physicians are faculty members at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and are board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology or are board eligible. At the Cizik Eye Clinic, we understand that the eye is a small part of a whole patient who deserves top-notch, comprehensive care in a cutting-edge facility.
At Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, we offer patients access to highly specialized eye and vision care. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-9400, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.