Start the new year with a fresh perspective—literally. Below, Georgia Eye Partners’ Dr. Parul Khator answers your pressing questions about the full spectrum of diagnosing and treating glaucoma.
Q: What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases in which the optic nerve in the back of the eye becomes damaged. We each have one optic nerve that connects our eyeball to our brain. That nerve is like a USB cable. It transmits all the images our eye has seen to the brain for processing.
Q: I don’t have any symptoms of glaucoma. Do I still need to be tested?
Absolutely. Glaucoma is usually a silent disease. Patients do not have any symptoms until the very late stages, when a significant amount of vision loss has already occurred. All patients should be screened for glaucoma during their yearly eye exam.
Q: Are there factors that put me at a higher risk for developing glaucoma?
Yes. While anyone can develop glaucoma, those at the highest risk include people who are over the age of 60, are African American, Indian or Hispanic, have a family history of glaucoma, have chronic steroid usage or people who are very nearsighted or very farsighted.
Q: What are the different ways to treat glaucoma?
There is no cure for glaucoma, but the disease can be controlled by lowering the pressure in the eye with eye drops, sustained release pellets of medication placed in the front of the eye, laser procedures or surgery. The goal of treatment is to stop the nerve damage and preserve vision. Unfortunately, once a patient loses vision from glaucoma, it cannot be restored, so early treatment is vital.
Q: Am I a good candidate for glaucoma surgery?
Your doctor will do a thorough examination of your eye in order to determine the best treatment for you. Surgeries for glaucoma are divided into three categories: laser procedures, minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS) and full thickness filtration surgeries. Surgery is especially useful if a patient is unable to tolerate drops, has a hard time remembering them or has difficulty putting them in. Surgeries are also necessary if a patient’s pressure cannot be successfully reduced with medication.
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