Glaucoma is an eye disease that results in damage to the optic nerve. When left untreated, glaucoma will cause blind spots in your visual field and eventually lead to blindness. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Fortunately, early detection and treatment can help you slow the progression of glaucoma and prevent vision loss. Because there are often no warning signs during the early stages of the disease, it's crucial that you get regular glaucoma screenings. Please call 970-669-1107 today to schedule an eye exam at our Loveland ophthalmology practice.
Causes of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disease in which the inflation pressure of the eye is too high for the eye to tolerate. This pressure damages the eye irreversibly and very gradually. It is very treatable, so it is important to detect it early.
There is a genetic component to glaucoma, so a family history of the disease increases your risk. It occurs more often in individuals over the age of 60.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two main types of glaucoma:
- Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common form of glaucoma and is caused by a gradual blockage in the drainage system that allows fluid to leave the inside of the eye to adjacent blood vessels. Open-angle glaucoma typically affects both eyes.
- Closed-angle glaucoma: This uncommon form of glaucoma is caused by an irregular position of the iris. When the iris shifts in position, it blocks the eye's drainage system. Closed-angle glaucoma typically develops in one eye at a time and may occur suddenly. If you develop it in one eye, you are at an increased risk of getting closed-angle glaucoma in your other eye.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
For many types of glaucoma, there is no pain or detectable symptoms until you start losing your vision. For this reason, your condition may go undetected until you've already sustained irreversible damage to your optic nerve.
Once glaucoma progresses to a more advanced stage, you may start to develop symptoms. Common symptoms of glaucoma may include:
- Blind spots in peripheral vision at first, and then in your central vision as well
- Tunnel vision (in very advanced stages)
- Severe eye pain
- Halos around lights
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Eye redness
- Vision loss
If you experience the symptoms glaucoma, it’s important that you see us right away if these symptoms develop.
Early detection and prompt treatment is the best way to prevent vision loss. For this reason, it's important to undergo regular glaucoma screenings as part of your vision exams. We recommend yearly comprehensive eye exams.
Dr. Kirk uses the following tests to diagnose glaucoma:
- Tonometry: Measurement of intraocular pressure
- Gonioscopy: An examination of the drainage system to detect abnormalities that can cause glaucoma.
- Ophthalmoscopy: Microscopic examination of your optic nerve to identify signs of damage
- Visual field testing: A computerized visual field analyzer that determines whether your eye can detect small and dim lights in your peripheral vision
Glaucoma treatment is a major focus of Dr. Kirk's practice, and he has extensive experience handling these cases. Dr. Kirk takes pride in providing exceptional glaucoma care, and he offers a variety of treatment options in order to effectively address your unique issue.
Glaucoma is a blinding disease, but it is very treatable, often with the use of prescription eye drops. The goal of treatment is to lower the interocular pressure. With careful monitoring and treatment we can often prevent you from ever having any noticeable vision loss.
Depending on the type and severity of your glaucoma, Dr. Kirk may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Eye drops to lower intraocular pressure
- Laser treatment to increase the drainage of fluid from your eye
- Glaucoma surgery to create new drainage pathways in your eye
Please contact Kirk Eye Center using the form on this page or call 970-669-1107 today to schedule a glaucoma screening. We serve patients in Loveland, Fort Collins, Windsor and throughout Northern Colorado.