Detection of Glaucoma
Regular eye examinations by your ophthalmologist are the best way to detect glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist will measure your eye pressure (tonometry); inspect the drainage angle of your eye (gonioscopy); evaluate your optic nerve (ophthalmolscopy); and test the visual field of each eye (perimetry). Optic nerve evaluation and visual field testing are performed at regular intervals to monitor the effects of glaucoma.
Once an ophthalmologist has diagnosed you with glaucoma, a variety of treatment options will be discussed to decide which option is the best choice for the severity of your glaucoma and lifestyle. Early detection and treatment are very important in preventing optic nerve damage and blindness due to glaucoma. Contact Glaucoma Consultants of the Capital Region today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.
ExPress Shunt for Glaucoma
One of the latest developments in the treatment of glaucoma is the use of the Express Shunt. The ExPress mini-glaucoma shunt a miniature stainless steel device that offers an additional option when treating difficult glaucoma cases. The shunt is as small as a grain of rice and is a hollow drainage tube that enables the drainage system of the eye, which as been damaged by glaucoma, to be bypassed, in turn lowering intraocular pressure in the eye. Generally when medical and laser therapy for glaucoma fails, some type of filtration surgery is the next step taken. The ExPress shunt provides immediate consistent aqueous flow through a microscopic opening.
To place the shunt, a thin flap is cut into the front of the eye. Next, a hollow needle is inserted through the eye, into the anterior chamber. Then, the ExPress shunt is placed into the hole created by the needle. Once the shunt is in place, the flap is closed and secured with tiny sutures. Fluid can then freely flow out of the eye, equalizing pressure within the eye. The procedure takes about 10 minutes to perform and is an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient will return home the day of surgery. After surgery quality of life is greatly improved as patients have minimal pain and discomfort and are able to see well after surgery. With traditional surgeries to treat glaucoma, healing time can take weeks. Placement if the Express shunt causes less disruption to the eye tissue so patients are much less likely to experience problems associated with standard surgery such as drooping of the eyelids. In many cases, patients that have had ExPress Shunt surgery are able to cut down or even eliminate medications and eye drops to control intraocular pressure.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)Another way to lower eye pressure is with laser therapy. A common laser treatment for glaucoma is called selective laser trabeculoplasty, or SLT. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is becoming a widely accepted treatment option in glaucoma treatment. SLT definitely offers a new glimpse of hope for glaucoma patients. By engaging in this NEW laser technology the ophthalmologists can now lower pressure that can possibly help a patient avoid a more invasive surgery. SLT might even reduce the dependence on medications or drops. The surgical process typically involves numbing the eye with topical eye drops so that you will not feel the laser treatment. In SLT, laser treatment is applied to the drain of your eye in order to open it up and let fluid out, lowering the eye pressure and saving your sight. SLT treatment takes only a few minutes, is performed in the office (not the operating room), is safe, and effectively lowers eye pressure in most people. The treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating glaucoma and is covered by essentially all insurance plans. After the procedure anti-inflammatory drops are used.
What does the procedure do?
SLT actually lowers (IOP) intraocular pressure by creating relatively small pulsing low-energy laser light to target cells in the trabecular mesh system of the eye
Are you a candidate for SLT?
People who might benefit from SLT are described below. If any of these descriptions apply to you, ask your doctor if SLT is right for you. Eye pressure not controlled despite using one or more eye drop medications—If you have tried several medications and your eye pressure is still not under control, SLT may be the next step.
- Inability to tolerate eye drop medications—Some people have medical problems that make using eye drop medications unsafe; others may be allergic to the preservatives in bottles of eye drop medications.
- Inability to put eye drop medications in your eyes—If you have arthritis, or a tremor, or very poor vision, you might not be able to put the drops in your eye.
- Frequently forgetting to use your eye drop medications—If you often forget to put your drops in, your eye pressure may be going up and down a lot; these fluctuations in eye pressure can make glaucoma worse.
- Inability to afford your eye drop medications—Many people have insurance that will cover SLT but will not cover medications. If you cannot afford your medications, SLT might be a more cost-effective way to control your glaucoma.
- Desire to reduce the number of eye drop medications you are using—If your eye pressure is controlled but you require several eye drop medications to keep it controlled, SLT might allow you to reduce the number of medications you are using for eye pressure.
- Desire to avoid starting eye drop medication therapy—If you have just been diagnosed with glaucoma, you may prefer to avoid eye drop medications entirely. SLT may help you accomplish this.