Glaucoma is a primary clinical interest of Dr. Steinhäuser who directs Phoenix Eye Care’s Glaucoma Service. Glaucoma is sometimes described as the thief of sight because of its typically slowly progressive and insidious nature. Unchecked, glaucoma damages the optic nerve and robs sight so slowly it usually goes unnoticed until significant visual loss has occurred. Glaucoma affects about 3 million people in the US and is one of the leading causes of blindness. The tragic part is that glaucoma is easily detectable and treatable.
Over time, glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the connection between the eye and the brain. Some forms of glaucoma are acute and the damage can be extremely rapid. Most forms progress slowly and remain unnoticed by the patient. In both cases, loss of nerve tissue occurs which the doctor can see as a cupping or depression of the normal nerve.
Many people believe glaucoma is caused by elevated pressure within the eye, but the disease is quite complex and linked to many factors. As the optic nerve becomes progressively damaged, more and more nerve cells are damaged resulting in dimming of the peripheral vision. In its later stages, central vision may also be compromised. Early detection and treatment is critical to prevent progressive loss and ultimately blindness.
Since glaucoma is often symptomless, routine yearly eye exams, especially for patients over 40, patients who have a family history of glaucoma, patients who are diabetic or are of African-American or Hispanic ethnicity are extremely important and highly recommended. Examination of the inside of the eye can reveal early changes to the optic nerve.
If there is any suspicion of glaucoma, additional testing with advanced instruments will help assure a definitive diagnosis and effective treatment plan. Dr. Steinhäuser has extensive experience in the management of glaucoma and is a member of the prestigious Optometric Glaucoma Society. The practice utilizes an array of advanced instruments like the Optovue iVue® optical coherence tomographer (on the right) and the Octopus® 900 Pro advanced perimeter (shown on the left) to assure accurate diagnosis and the best possible management.
Glaucoma is a progressive disease, but modern eye drop medications and, if necessary, surgical intervention can limit potential damage from this disease and preserve vision.
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