About Glaucoma in Bloomington, MN

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About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a set of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve, which has the important job of transmitting visual stimuli to the brain. If not treated early enough, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and/or complete blindness. It is almost always caused by increased pressure within the eye from built-up fluid. Glaucoma predominantly impacts people over 60 years of age. Right now, about two million individuals in the U.S. have glaucoma, many of whom are undiagnosed. In the beginning, glaucoma doesn't have any obvious symptoms and is often referred to as the "silent thief." While a cure has not been found for glaucoma, it may be slowed via early detection and the most effective treatments.

Conditions like glaucoma are an important reason why undergoing comprehensive eye exams at least every two years is imperative to your total ocular health. At Chu Vision Institute, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Ralph Chu uses state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies and is widely knowledgeable about the most innovative management methods. If you are over 40 years old, contact us in Minneapolis, MN to schedule your exam and get in control of managing your eye health.

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Symptoms of Glaucoma

The many types and stages of glaucoma generally have no symptoms at their onsets. However, each kind could also present one or more symptoms that could be minor to severe. When glaucoma begins to worsen, patients often first notice issues, like reduced peripheral vision, blurred vision, eye strain, and eye redness. As the condition progresses, symptoms may include pronounced glare, extremely reduced peripheral vision, vomiting, and sore eyes. As glaucoma doesn't usually have any symptoms at first, having frequent comprehensive eye exams is crucial to catch it early enough to control vision impairment.

What Causes Glaucoma?

All cases of glaucoma are caused by injury to the optic nerve. Almost always, this damage is the result of high intraocular pressure from problems with eye fluid drainage. In properly functioning eyes, the fluid essential to the eye tissue can easily flow from one area to another through a special tissue, the trabecular meshwork, which supports the area between the iris and the cornea. In some cases, this drainage is blocked or extremely slow, which leads to fluid retention.

The two main types of glaucoma are categorized based on the state of the trabecular meshwork and the degree of the angle between the cornea and iris. When the fluid buildup is caused by a problem within the trabecular meshwork, it is referred to as open-angle glaucoma. However, if the retention is caused by the pathway between the cornea and iris being too tight or blocked, this is known as narrow- or closed-angle glaucoma. Scientific studies have shown that glaucoma caused by intraocular pressure is often inherited.

Beyond genes and the aging process, more factors that could increase internal eye pressure include long-term use of corticosteroid eye drops, having abnormally thin corneal tissue, and having certain health conditions, including diabetes. However, glaucoma can be the result of problems other than eye pressure. When this happens, it is called secondary glaucoma, as it is the result of a separate, preexisting condition.

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Dr. Chu performs multiple tests to determine if someone has glaucoma. All of the tests are quick and comfortable. First, he will dilate the pupils and possibly numb the eyes with no-sting eye drops before he begins performing the tests. Usually, these will include calculating the intraocular pressure (tonometry) and the thickness of the cornea (pachymetry), measuring the size of the angle between the cornea and iris (gonioscopy), evaluating and digitally imaging the condition of the optic nerve, checking the patient’s field of side (peripheral) vision, and testing for any spots of blindness.

Glaucoma Management Options

If a diagnosis of glaucoma is established, there are numerous techniques patients can choose from to effectively manage the condition. All of these techniques focus on decreasing internal eye pressure to avoid further trauma to the optical nerve. Most people who are in the very early stages of glaucoma can often hinder or interrupt their vision loss by controlling glaucoma with special eye drops.

For individuals whose disease has progressed further, more involved treatments, such as MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery), laser surgeries, and traditional glaucoma surgery, may ease the condition a great deal. Whether we provide these procedures or need to refer the patient to a specialist, the Chu Vision Institute team is committed to establishing the best answers for our patients' personalized ocular healthcare.

Take Control of Glaucoma

At Chu Vision Institute, we have helped many patients by managing their glaucoma. It’s critical to know that getting a diagnosis and intervention at the onset can help you keep your symptoms under control. Dr. Chu encourages any person who has these symptoms, a family member with glaucoma, or an existing diagnosis of glaucoma to schedule a consultation at our practice in the Twin Cities.

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