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What is Glaucoma?

Colorado Cataract Laser & Vision is proud to offer very thorough and complete glaucoma eye care in Colorado. We are honored to have one of the state’s most acknowledged glaucoma eye doctors and feel confident in our ability to deliver the best glaucoma eye care.

Glaucoma is a disease that permanently damages the optic nerve leading to reduced vision or blindness. It is called the sneak thief of sight because vision loss is often the first sign. By the time someone notices changes in their vision, glaucoma has already caused severe irreversible damage. The best defense against glaucoma is a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year for those over 40 years old. If glaucoma is diagnosed in its early stages it is a very treatable condition.

The optic nerve in the eye sends signals from the eye to the brain, where they are then processed in the brain. Glaucoma affects this in a slow, progressive loss of the nerve fibers which make up the optic nerve. With a slit lamp, among other special tests using the most advanced technology for glaucoma detection, our doctors are able to visualize this nerve, and determine how much, if any, damage has been dealt from glaucoma.

Do I have Glaucoma?

Common symptoms that lead to glaucoma include:

Generally, people over the age of 60 are at risk for Glaucoma. Other risk factors include:

  • Diseases affecting circulation.
  • Previous trauma to the eye.
  • Myopia.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics are eight times more likely to have glaucoma.

If you are overdue for an eye exam, contact us today to setup an appointment!

Types of Glaucoma

The goal in treating glaucoma is to protect the optic nerve from damage by lowering the pressure in the eye. For most people, prescription eye drops help to successfully lower the eye pressure, thus preventing progression and vision loss from glaucoma. Laser surgery (SLT) is an alternative treatment and it may be used along with prescription eye drops. SLT can be repeated and lowers eye pressure in about 80% of people for about 5 years. Surgery may be necessary if prescription eye drops and laser surgery do not adequately prevent progression, glaucoma filtration or drainage implant.

Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma
The most common type. It is often associated with elevated eye pressure. It develops slowly without pain and occurs more commonly as we age. African Americans are at a much higher risk than others for this type of glaucoma.
Angle Closure Glaucoma
Not nearly as common, this type of glaucoma can occur suddenly. It is very painful and is an emergency condition. Caucasians and Asians are at a higher risk than others for acute angle closure glaucoma.
Secondary Glaucoma
Secondary glaucoma develops after trauma or disease damages the drainage system. Injury, infection, inflammation, tumor or an enlarged cataract can precipitate secondary glaucoma.
Congenital Glaucoma
A rare condition that is present at birth and manifests in the first few years of life.
SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty)
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is becoming a widely accepted glaucoma treatment option, and offers a new horizon of hope for glaucoma patients. In using this new laser technology, Dr. Grin and her staff can lower pressure in the eye, therefore possibly avoiding more invasive surgery.

SLT involves laser treatment that is applied to the drain of your eye in order to open it up and let fluid exit more effectively. This treatment only takes a few minutes, is safe, and effectively lowers eye pressure in most people.

SLT Colorado

Trabeculectomy is a safe procedure used to assist in lowering eye pressure, thus halting further damage glaucoma has caused. The trabeculectomy procedure involves Dr. Grin and her trained staff creating a tiny passageway from the inside, to the outside of the eye. This will help fluid drain more efficiently, and prevent more damage to the optic nerve.

Glaucoma Colorado

Another way to lower intraocular pressure is with Ex-PRESS mini shunts. The Ex-PRESS mini shunt is relatively new, and has been used in approximately 12,000 dry eye related surgeries.

The procedure begins with our doctors diverting fluid in the eye through a very small tube to the outside of the eye. The device itself is about the size of a piece of rice, and acts like a heart stent in that it creates a pathway through blockage.

The Ex-PRESS shunt provides precise control of the fluid, and helps to maintain a healthy level of internal pressure.

Shunts Colorado

Glaucoma Treatment

The absolute best way to treat glaucoma, is through early diagnosis. It is recommended that you visit your eye doctor at least every two years for an examination.

The goals of glaucoma treatment entails decreasing aqueous humor production, increasing fluid drainage, or a combination of the two. While these treatments cannot restore vision, it can stop further damage to the eye.

Eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. These medications allow for faster drainage of fluid from the eye. Some of the treatments actually reduce the overall production of the fluid. While one form of these medications can help, combinations of them help further. Some patients will need more than just eye drops for their condition, and may require surgery.

Surgery options include, SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty), Trabeculectomy, as well as Shunts.

Glaucoma FAQ

What causes glaucoma?
When the clear fluid that usually bathes and nourishes the nearby tissues of the eye starts to drain too slowly, pressure builds up and damages the optic nerve.
What is the optic nerve?
The optic nerve is actually a collection of more than a million nerve fibers. It is what connects the retina to the brain.
I have increased eye pressure, does that mean I have glaucoma?
Having increased eye pressure doesn’t necessarily mean you have glaucoma. While it does put you at a higher risk of having glaucoma, it is only when the optic nerve is damaged that you have it.
Can glaucoma be cured?
Right now there is no cure for glaucoma. Any damage to the optic nerve is permanent. Having eye exams is important for this reason. It allows the doctor to detect glaucoma before any further damage will occur.