Glaucoma stirs a strong sense of fear in many. This potentially blinding condition affects tens of millions of people worldwide. Of great concern is that once the optic nerve is damaged, the results are permanent. Many individuals are unaware that they have this disease even when the damage is severe and irreversible. This is possibly because the changes are gradual and begin in the outer field of vision. Individuals do not sense changes in the periphery as easily as one would with central vision loss. People with advanced peripheral field loss can still see 20/20, yet be legally blind. In order to prevent severe vision loss, routine ophthalmic examinations must be performed from an early age. Steroids and family history may increase risk, but everyone is susceptible.
Initial eye screenings, including pressure checks, should begin in childhood. If glaucoma does develop the use of one or more drops every day to treat glaucoma may save your remaining vision. However, these drops may be associated with eye redness, burning, and tearing. Some potentially life-threatening complications may also arise from the use of certain eye drops. This leads many to choose a safe alternative, laser surgery, known as Selective Laser Trabeculopasty (SLT). SLT is a safe, painless, and successful treatment that may be repeated and potentially alleviate the need for drops.
Some individuals may continue to lose vision in spite of maximal medical treatment. New surgical treatments such the XEN Gel Stent can provide strong lasting results with a better safety profile then older valves and Trabeulectomy techniques. This new XEN Gel Stent promises to improve the outlook for many individuals who may have previously faced blindness.
My results with these new treatments have been fantastic. Many patients are able to maintain pressures around twelve without any medications. The XEN Gel Stent procedure may also be combined with cataract surgery. If you think you might be a candidate for this exciting new technology or any other glaucoma treatment, call for a consultation and a thorough glaucoma evaluation.
-Dr. Carl Hyder