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 Bloomington, MN to schedule your exam and get in control of managing your eye health.
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.
"Bare with my lengthy review but if you’re like me, I wanted to know what others true thoughts were and I scoured as many reviews as possible to make sure I was making the best decision for me and my eyes. I am SO, SO thankful for Dr. Chu and Dr. Heckman’s expertise and honesty. I decided it was time to get Lasik and went in for my consultation. From check-in to my latest follow up, everyone at the Chu Vision Institute was friendly, warm, and helpful. Due to some past corneal scarring, Dr. Chu recommended that I get Lasik on one eye and PRK (ASA) on the other. I was extremely nervous about PRK because of the slightly longer recovery time and I really just wanted to wake up and have 20/20 vision like my friends who have had Lasik. The day of my procedure, they made sure I had all my questions and concerns answered before they let me in to have my surgery. That was extremely comforting to me and Dr. Heckman explained why PRK was recommended over Lasik. Simply put, I wouldn’t have had a good outcome if Dr. Chu had performed Lasik on both eyes. Both procedures went well and Dr. Chu confirmed his right decision during the procedure which took all of maybe 10 minutes for both eyes. As instructed, I went home and rested and could literally see 20/20 the next day with my Lasik eye. The PRK eye takes a little longer to heal but can already see better! (I was worried my blurry eye would affect my vision, but it did not). Recovery has been great and will continue to get better in the next few weeks. Now my husband wants to get his eyes done. Chu Vision Institute has exceeded my expectations and I am very happy with my results!"- E.M. / Google / Oct 20, 2020
"I had cataracts removed from both eyes. Dr. Chu and his staff were wonderful to work with. From the exam to the surgical procedure and recovery, everyone was very professional and pleasant . I had a perfect outcome and would highly recommend the Chu vision Clinic."- B.S. / Google / Oct 02, 2020
"I’ve been going to Chu vision for about three years now and and I’ve had excellent service each and every time. They follow me yearly for my dry eye condition. They are extremely thorough and take the time to answer all my questions. Highly recommend them."- C.S. / Google / Jul 31, 2020
"Exceptional. I felt like family as soon as I walked through the front door. Staff was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and my LASIK procedure went flawlessly. Like most folks, I did extensive research for months before my consult (word of mouth and online) I highly recommend Chu Vision for your procedure."- C.M. / Google / Mar 19, 2020
"I want to thank everyone at Chu Vision for the remarkable care we received recently. The clinic has an immaculate protocol to prevent Covid exposure for all of its patients. One might think that all the masks would prevent a warm, caring environment but not at Chu Vision! To a person, everyone was warm and welcoming. Dr. Chu was terrific and extremely thorough. The clinic was able to assess my husband’s acute vision change using a remarkable variety of tests and tools. What would have taken weeks at another clinic took only hours at Chu Vision. We won’t ever go anywhere else. Thank you so very much!"- K.D. / Yelp / Jul 13, 2020
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 Bloomington, MN.
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