We know any medical diagnosis could come as a shock, and oftentimes, it might be difficult to understand what is causing the condition. A glaucoma diagnosis is no different.
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that if left untreated, can eventually lead to blindness. Although elevated intraocular pressure is a common cause, glaucoma can be asymptomatic – meaning it may occur without noticeable symptoms — and can often go undiagnosed without proper checkups, and worsen over time. If you’re unfamiliar with what causes glaucoma and how to treat it, continue reading the article below.
What is Elevated Intraocular Pressure and How Can it Impact Your Vision?
Increased intraocular pressure (IOP) occurs when aqueous fluid in the eye – used to transport important nutrients to the lens and cornea – accumulates and cannot drain naturally. In other words, there is an imbalance in production and outflow of aqueous humor, which is the fluid produced by the eye. IOP is a major risk factor for developing glaucoma, which is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can, if left untreated, cause vision impairment and even blindness.
Although the development of glaucoma is not completely understood, we do know that it is associated with elevated IOP. The disease damages the nerve fibers in the optic nerve and the retina, limiting a person’s field of view and quality of vision. Open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type of glaucoma, has no obvious symptoms in its early stage. As glaucoma progresses, blind spots can begin to develop in the peripheral view. These spots can go undetected until the optic nerve has experienced serious damage, or until it’s detected by an eye care specialist through a complete eye exam. Similarly, people at risk for angle-closure glaucoma often do not experience symptoms before it occurs.
However, if people do experience symptoms, they may include severe pain in the eyes or forehead, eye redness, decreased or blurred vision, seeing rainbows or halos around lights, headache, nausea, and vomiting. IOP and glaucoma can only be diagnosed during an eye examination, which is why it is important to schedule regular check-ups with your eye doctor.
Available Treatment Options
If you suffer from elevated intraocular pressure and have been diagnosed with glaucoma, don’t worry, because it can be successfully treated. Early detection is vital, which is why most eye care professionals check for it during regular eye exams.
A common treatment for high intraocular pressure and glaucoma is prescription eye drops. When taken as directed, these eye drops can reduce high IOP — most commonly by decreasing the amount of fluid created or by helping fluid drain from the eye. However, research has shown that more than 90% of patients are non-adherent with their prescription eye drops for glaucoma, and nearly 50% stop taking their medications before six months. Your doctor may prescribe more than one type of medication to manage your glaucoma over time. Be sure to tell your eye care professional if you’re taking other medications that may interfere with glaucoma medications.
In addition to eye drops, laser treatments and Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) are additional treatment options. Today, more micro-invasive surgical options are available for patients who are interested in effective glaucoma management without having to rely solely on the continuous use of prescription medication. iStent inject® W is FDA-approved and is one of the smallest medical devices known to be implanted in the human body. Approved for glaucoma patients, iStent inject® W is implanted at the time of cataract surgery. You won’t see or feel the stents after they are inserted, but they are designed to effectively manage your intraocular pressure (IOP).
You can learn more about available treatment options for glaucoma here.
Get Your Eyes Checked Today!
We hope this information clears up any questions you might have had around what intraocular pressure is and how glaucoma can affect your eyesight. Don’t forget, it is important to keep up with your annual eye exams! If you’re looking for a leading eye care professional in your area that is offering treatment for patients with mild-to-moderate glaucoma, check out our physician locator today.
For more information on glaucoma and available treatment options, visit our website. Also, don’t forget to follow Living with Glaucoma on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on all things glaucoma and iStent inject® W.
 Nordstrom BL, Friedman DS, Mozaffari E, Quigley HA, Walker AM. Persistence and adherence with topical glaucoma therapy. Am J Ophthalmol. 2005;140(4):598-606.
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