Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the optic nerve, which is responsible for trans mitting visual information to the brain. The disorder can affect a person’s peripheral vision and over time can lead to severe vision impairment. Glaucoma is often diagnosed by measuring the patient’s intraocular pressure (IOP), as high IOP is one sign of the disease. However, not every patient suffering from glaucoma develops high IOP. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness among Americans and is, therefore, often referred to as the “silent thief of sight.” Alice L. Williams, M.D. is the head of Eye Associates' Glaucoma Department. She is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has completed additional, specialized training on treatment and surgery for glaucoma.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection is the key to reducing the progression of the disease. The two most common types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is often associated with high intraocular pressure, which can only be detected through a series of tests. Because this type of glaucoma produces no visible symptoms, regular eye exams are essential for early detection. Most individuals suffering from POAG are completely unaware of their condition until permanent damage of the optic nerve has occurred and their peripheral vision starts to deteriorate. If left untreated, POAG may lead to tunnel vision.
Unlike POAG, angle-closure glaucoma (also known as narrow-angle glaucoma) is often associated with a number of symptoms, including eye pain, headaches, halos, dilated pupils, vision loss, eye redness and nausea. The symptoms generally occur in the form of an attack; symptoms then subside but return after some time, with each onset causing further nerve damage. Patients experiencing narrow-angle glaucoma attacks should call us as soon as possible.
We treat other types of glaucoma:
Depending on each patient’s glaucoma type and severity, our physicians will develop the most effective and quick-acting treatment possible. Most frequently performed glaucoma treatments include eye drops, minimally invasive laser therapy and/or surgical procedures that reduce the intraocular pressure, thus preventing vision loss.
In addition to these Glaucoma Services at Eye Associates, we are pleased to be the first on the east coast and third in the United States to offer the surgical glaucoma treatment called The CyPass Micro-Stent®. The CyPass Micro-Stent device and is designed to reduce pressure buildup inside the eye. Until recently, this technology was only available in the U.S. through the COMPASS Clinical Study. The CyPass Micro-Stent has been available for clinical assessment in Europe since 2009.
The CyPass Micro-Stent is inserted in the eye during routine cataract surgery, just after the intraocular lens (or "IOL") is placed in the eye. Using specialized instrumentation, the CyPass Micro-Stent is placed in a precise location just below the surface of the eye to create a new pathway for the drainage of fluid, thereby reducing intraocular pressure. Once in place, the CyPass Micro-Stent is intended to control intraocular pressure all day long, which may reduce the risk of glaucoma disease progression. The CyPass Micro-Stent is designed to create a path for excess fluid to drain, thereby reducing intraocular pressure.
The video below describes another stent used to help control the increased pressure in eyes with glaucoma, called the iStent. The stent improves the eye's pressure by creating a permanent bypass through the primary blockage site (trabecular meshwork.)