Glaucoma is known as a silent thief because it takes what is so very precious — your vision and all the joys you experience through sight — and does it without warning.
That is why it is so important to have a qualified ophthalmologist or optometrist examine your eyes regularly. The trusted professionals at Austin Eye are skilled in discovering the warning signs of glaucoma early, before you notice symptoms and your field of vision begins to narrow.
Pressure Imperils the Optic Nerve
The term glaucoma encompasses several related conditions that damage the optic nerve, each announcing its presence only at a very late stage. The optic nerve is vital to your sense of sight, transmitting visual data from the eye to the brain. Without a properly functioning optic nerve, blindness results.
The buildup of pressure within the eyes is glaucoma’s first silent warning sign. During a comprehensive exam, your doctor will check for ocular hypertension by measuring the pressure of the aqueous humor, the fluid within your eyes.
How to Check for Glaucoma
There are two tests that eye care professionals commonly perform to check for evidence of glaucoma: non-contact tonometry (NCT) and applanation tonometry.
NCT uses an instrument that emits a quick puff of air toward the surface of the eye. Only this gentle plume of air makes contact with the cornea. This test is most useful as a screening test. NCT results can provide your doctor with a clue that further investigation is needed by performing applanation tonometry or a visual test, or in some cases directly examining and photographing your optic nerve.
More precise measurements can be obtained with applanation tonometry, which measures intraocular pressure with a small sensor that gently touches the surface of your eye.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
Some individuals are at higher risk for developing glaucoma, including African Americans, patients over 60, diabetics or anyone with a family history of the disease. A correlation of risk with an unhealthy lifestyle is less clear, but it is a good idea nonetheless to eat healthfully, maintain recommended weight, exercise and avoid smoking and excessive amounts of alcohol.
The importance of identifying glaucoma early cannot be overstated. Although vision loss resulting from the disease will never be restored, glaucoma’s grim progression can be slowed by daily use of eye drops to reduce eye pressure, or with surgery.
How to Learn More About Glaucoma
If you’re overdue for an exam that will test for glaucoma, or if you would simply like to learn more about the disease, schedule a personal consultation with Austin Eye. Contact us by calling our North office at (512) 250-2020 or our Central office at (512) 454-202