Center for Sight

Comprehensive Eye Care Center


Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for patients between the ages of 18-65 years of age. It is estimated that approximately 3 million people have Glaucoma and only half actually know it! Glaucoma is such a significant threat to sight because whereas most serious eye diseases or eye conditions produce some symptoms that make patients uncomfortable or disturb their vision-glaucoma begins without any symptoms or obvious loss of vision! Glaucoma is quite insidious and, if not diagnosed and treated early in its course, will lead to progressive and permanent vision loss. This is what makes glaucoma such a dangerous disease. Many patients are under the impression that glaucoma is just due to a high pressure within the eye. While a high intraocular pressure (IOP) certainly can be one cause of glaucoma, and in fact is the most common cause, a high IOP is not the only cause of glaucoma. It is entirely possible to have a higher than normal Intraocular Pressure (IOP) and vision loss and simply not know it. Fortunately, glaucoma is treatable, and in many cases patients retain excellent vision throughout their lives.

At Center for Sight, we recommend that all patients over 50 years of age who have no previous family history of Glaucoma or other general health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, be evaluated for Glaucoma every two years. If there is any family history of Glaucoma at all, or there any other general health problems, we recommend patients be evaluated for Glaucoma every year beginning at age 40.

In addition, we now also know that there is considerable risk for siblings of those who have Glaucoma. In the Nottingham Glaucoma Study, it was found that the siblings of Glaucoma patients are 5 times the risk for developing Glaucoma by the age of 70 and therefore should be examined every year.

Everyone is at risk for Glaucoma, however there are many factors that can predispose you to developing Glaucoma including:

  • High Intraocular Pressure (IOP)
  • Age-The incidence of glaucoma increases with age and becomes much more frequent after the age of 40. You are six times more likely to get Glaucoma if you are over 60 years of age-even if you have no other family or medical history that is significant.
  • Race-African-Americans have certain genetic factors that cause a higher likelihood of developing glaucoma and have a six to eight-fold increase in risk.
  • Myopia-Some patients who are nearsighted may have anatomical features of the eye that can increase the risk of glaucoma.
  • Hypertension or High Blood Pressure-If you are taking medication for high blood pressure you may be at greater risk for glaucoma due to the lowering of the blood pressure within the optic nerve.
  • Diabetes-If you are being treated for diabetes you are at greater risk for glaucoma due to the general circulation problems associated with diabetes.
  • Family History-If anyone in your family has glaucoma, this is a very significant risk factor. If any other family members have been diagnosed with Glaucoma, your risk of developing glaucoma increases four to nine-fold over the general population. This is particularly true for siblings of glaucoma patients have a 5-fold increase in risk for developing Glaucoma.

  • Primary Open Angle Glaucoma
    Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type we see. Patients with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma usually have an increase in Intraocular Pressure (IOP) from either too much Aqueous Humor being produced or too little being drained from the eye. The fluid buildup within the closed space of the inside of the eye causes the pressure to rise. This elevation in pressure (IOP) causes the circulation in the optic nerve to decrease, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in permanent damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. If left untreated, an elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP) may, over time, cause total blindness.

  • Angle Closure Glaucoma
    There are two types of Angle Closure Glaucoma: Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma and Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma. Although Angle Closure Glaucoma occurs much less frequently than Open Angle Glaucoma, it is important because it can result in considerable vision loss in a brief period of time. Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma accounts for approximately 10% of all cases of glaucoma and about 2/3 of these once again produce no early symptoms for patients. Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma is one of the only types of glaucoma that produce distinct symptoms that include pain, light sensitivity, redness, blurred vision, colored haloes around lights and nausea or vomiting.

    There are several causes of Angle Closure Glaucoma, but it is most often caused by anatomical changes within the internal structures of the eye. Angle Closure Glaucoma is considerably more common in farsighted eyes, which tend to be smaller and in patients between the ages of 45-60 years of age where the Crystalline Lens is beginning to swell.

    During your general eye exam if the Center for Sight eye doctor observes or measures a narrowed angle, he or she will perform an additional examination procedure called Gonioscopy. If you are at risk for Angle Closure Glaucoma or have Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma your eye doctor may initially prescribe some medication to begin to lower the pressure and then will most likely recommend performing a “Laser Iridotomy,” which is quite successful in treating Angle Closure Glaucoma and preventing recurrences. Laser Iridotomy is a type of Laser Eye Surgery that the eye physicians and surgeons at Center for Sight will perform right in the comfort and convenience of our office.

Glaucoma is a very complex eye disease, and not simply an elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP). Nonetheless, when detected early it can be successfully treated. Center for Sight and its staff provide the full scope of advanced technology diagnostic testing and treatment, as well as taking the time necessary to give each patient the personal education needed to fully understand their condition and get the best possible outcomes for their patients.