Monitoring the internal pressure of your eyes is an important way an ophthalmologist is able to detect emerging threats to your vision. At Mack Eye Center, we pay close attention to elevated eye pressure, as it can be the first clue that you may be developing glaucoma, a serious disorder that damages the optic nerve and ultimately robs its victims of the precious gift of sight.
Protecting the Optic Nerve
The term glaucoma encompasses several related conditions that damage the optic nerve, each announcing its presence only at a very late stage. The optic nerve is vital to your sense of sight, transmitting visual data from the eye to the brain. Without a properly functioning optic nerve, blindness results.
The buildup of pressure within the eyes is glaucoma’s first silent warning sign. During a comprehensive exam, your ophthalmologist will check for ocular hypertension by measuring the pressure of the aqueous humor, the fluid within your eyes.
There are two tests that eye care professionals commonly perform to check for evidence of glaucoma: non-contact tonometry (NCT) and applanation tonometry. NCT uses an instrument that emits a quick puff of air toward the surface of the eye. Only this gentle plume of air makes contact with the cornea. More precise measurements can be obtained with applanation tonometry, which measures intraocular pressure with a small sensor that gently touches the surface of your eye.
Some individuals are at higher risk for developing glaucoma, including African Americans, patients over 60, diabetics or anyone with a family history of the disease. A correlation of risk with an unhealthy lifestyle is less clear, but it is a good idea nonetheless to eat healthfully, maintain recommended weight, exercise and avoid smoking and excessive amounts of alcohol.
The importance of identifying glaucoma early cannot be overstated. Although vision loss resulting from the disease will never be restored, glaucoma’s progression can be slowed by daily use of eye drops to reduce eye pressure, or with surgery.
If you would like to know more about glaucoma, schedule an appointment today at Mack Eye Center, conveniently located in Hoffman Estates.