The American Glaucoma Society states that there are at least 3 million Americans who suffer from glaucoma and it is the leading cause of worldwide preventable blindness. Glaucoma is often referred to as “the silent thief of sight” because it has no symptoms until it reaches the advanced stages. Glaucoma is a chronic disease that has no cure, but it is treatable with therapy. Of those treated in the U.S., 90% of the time we are able to adequately slow the progression of the disease so patients will not go blind.
Kirkwood Eye Center has invested in the most advanced equipment available to accurately diagnose and manage this treatable disease. Our doctors have achieved the highest certification available and are all glaucoma certified. Rest assured you are in good hands, whether you currently have glaucoma or are being monitored for pre-glaucoma.
One of the amazing things about the eye is that it’s designed to gather light, but it is not where we actually see. Sight actually takes place in the visual cortex, which is located in the back of the brain. Many remember being taught in school that the eye transmits the images seen to the brain upside down and the brain in turn flips the image upright. This is indeed the case! The optic nerve is the “wire” between the eyes and the visual center of the brain. Maintaining the integrity and health of the optic nerve is critical for eyesight. On the right, you will see the picture of what a healthy optic nerve looks like to our doctors when they evaluate your eyes. You will notice a central cup, which is the dead part of the optic nerve. The rim tissue around the outer edges is the healthy, living part of the optic nerve. As the central cup (dead area) grows, the living area shrinks. If the central cup ever completely reaches the outer rim of the nerve, we have reached blindness. The average cup typically is between a .2 (central 20%) to a .4 (central 40%).
The above image shows what a patient who has advanced glaucoma can expect to happen to their vision. Glaucoma begins with peripheral vision loss and eventually, as the disease progresses, advances to central vision loss.
Above you will see an image from a scan called an optical coherence tomography (OCT). This is one of the most advanced technologies for glaucoma detection.