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All About Glaucoma

Image of a group of older people wearing glasses.

Glaucoma is a serious disorder that can damage the optic nerves of your eyes if left untreated. The optic nerve carries images from your eyes to your brain. If the nerve is damaged, full or partial vision loss can occur. In some cases, people develop glaucoma because the pressure in their eyes begins to increase while, in others, ocular (eye) pressure is not an issue.

Although the word "glaucoma" is used as a blanket term to describe this condition, there are actually several different forms of the disorder.

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma occurs when you produce too much aqueous humor, the clear liquid that fills your eyeball, or when channels that drain the aqueous humor become blocked. In both cases, pressure in your eye begins to increase, which can lead to optic nerve damage. If you do not have a glaucoma test at your optometrist's office regularly, you probably will not know that you have primary open angle glaucoma until you begin to notice problems with your side, or peripheral, vision.

Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma

Acute angle closure glaucoma occurs due to a sudden blockage in the drainage channels in the eye. Eye pressure rises quickly, causing severe pain, redness, decreased vision and nausea. If you develop any of these symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately. If the problem is not corrected promptly, you may experience permanent vision loss.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

In normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage occurs even though the pressure in your eye remains at normal levels. The first sign that you have this form of glaucoma is often tunnel vision.

Less Common Forms of Glaucoma

Pigmentary glaucoma occurs when a tiny piece of pigment breaks loose from your iris and blocks the drainage channels in your eye while secondary glaucoma develops after an eye infection or injury. Some children are born with congenital glaucoma, an inherited form of the disorder.

Who Gets Glaucoma?

Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people have an increased risk of developing the disorder. Your chances of getting glaucoma may be higher if:

  • You have structural abnormalities in your eyes.
  • You are very nearsighted or have a family history of glaucoma.
  • You are over 60, or are black, Hispanic or Asian.
  • You recently had an eye infection or eye surgery.
  • You have sickle cell anemia, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • You take corticosteroids.

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

Optometrists prescribe a variety of eye drops that work by either decreasing fluid production or improving drainage. In some cases, oral medication also helps lower the pressure in your eye. Surgery can help improve drainage in your eye and is the recommended treatment if you suddenly develop acute angle closure glaucoma. Both traditional and laser surgery is used to treat the disorder.

How Can I Find Out If I Have Glaucoma?

Yearly eye checkups can help you avoid vision loss due to glaucoma. Since symptoms do not usually occur until there is already damage, frequent glaucoma tests are a must. Optometrists use several painless screening tests. Tonometry measures the pressure inside your eye while visual field testing tests your peripheral vision.

Special eye drops that dilate the pupils allow doctors to take a close look at your eyes and spot any signs that could indicate that you have glaucoma. Optic nerve imaging provides a picture of your nerve and is useful for spotting changes or damage.

Concerned that you are at risk for glaucoma? Call us today to schedule an exam and testing.

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  • "Best eye care in Asheville “If you truly want the best eye care in Asheville and it’s surrounding area you need to visit Envision Eye Care. This group of members makes you feel like your family. I had a full check-up and purchased a pair of sunglasses and the entire process was awesome. Just go visit and you will see what I’m talking about.”"
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  • "When others had failed, Dr. Golson understood “When I first visited Envision, I was skeptical that Dr. Golson would be able to help with my special circumstances. When others had failed, Dr. Golson understood and was very patient working with me to get my prescriptions correct. The staff is exceptional and greets me by name each time I visit their office. I strongly recommend Envision to fill all your needs for eyecare. And they have awesome frames! Thanks guys and gals at Envision.”"
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  • "Service and genuine concern for your best interests “I went to Dr. Golson and Envision Eye Care for an eye check recently. The office environment is very pleasant and the staff very helpful. Dr. Golson did a very thorough eye exam and was able to allay any fears I had about my visual health. In addition, I felt no pressure to purchase glasses at their facility. If service and genuine concern for your best interests are of value to you I recommend Dr. Golson and his staff at Envision Eye Care!”"
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  • "I trust my eyes to Envision Eye Care! “First, when you enter the office, you are greeted like you are the most important, special person in the world. Second, the staff is extremely professional and friendly and knowledgeable. Dr. Larry is patient eye care is phenomenal! The most conscientious, thorough Dr. I have ever been to!”"
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