Glaucoma is a disease of increased pressure within the eye. The eye produces aqueous or fluid in an area of the eye called the ciliary body. This aqueous circulates through the anterior chamber, or front portion of the eye. After circulating, the aqueous drains through an area called the trabecular meshwork. In a normal eye, the amount of aqueous produced equals the amount of aqueous drained. In an eye with glaucoma, however, either the eye is overproducing aqueous, or the drainage through the trabecular meshwork has slowed. This excess aqueous within the eye causes an increase in the pressure within the eye.
This increase in pressure results in an excessive amount of stress to be put upon the components of the eye. The area that we worry about be effected the most is the optic nerve and the nerve fiber layers. The increased pressure within the eye compresses the attachment of the optic nerve to the eye. An indented area called the optic nerve cup begins to expand in individuals with increased pressures for extended periods of time. This continued compression results in a thinning of the nerve fiber layers as they spread throughout an individual's eye. These nerve fiber layers are the wires responsible for bringing vision from the eye to the brain. As this compression continues, the nerve fiber layers begin to die off and peripheral vision begins to be lost.
It is very important that a person with glaucoma be diagnosed and treated before these nerve fiber layers can be damaged. Through tests including eye pressure determination, analysis of the optic nerve, and the GDx nerve fiber analysis equipment, we are able to diagnose and treat glaucoma effectively. Initial treatments often involve eye drops that lower the pressure with the eye. Occasionally, surgery to either open the drain or decrease production of aqueous within the eye is recommended if eye drops are not effectively lowering the pressure with the eye.