If your recent searches have brought you to “glaucoma specialist near me,” you may feel overwhelmed with options and information you never knew you needed to consider. The process of finding a glaucoma specialist can be just as complex as glaucoma itself.
To understand what you should look for in an ophthalmologist, it’s important to first understand what glaucoma is and why glaucoma treatment is necessary.
What You Need to Know About Glaucoma Surgery
Glaucoma is a detrimental eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve via built-up pressure behind the eye. It’s not a singular disease; glaucoma is actually a group of similar eye conditions that generally lead to blindness when left untreated. As pressure accumulates behind the eye, the optic nerve incurs serious damage, which often leads to irreversible vision loss.
The optic nerve (part of the crucial central nervous system) is responsible for translating sight from the eyes to the brain. Without the optic nerve, our brains wouldn’t be able to make sense of our visions. We would see things, but we wouldn’t be able to process them without this nerve.
Four Most Common Types Of Glaucoma
Although there are many different types of glaucoma, the four most common types are:
- Primary open angle glaucoma
- Primary angle closure glaucoma
- Secondary glaucoma
- Developmental glaucoma
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., but it can be present for years without showing apparent signs or symptoms.
- According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, it’s estimated that “over 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know they have it.”
- This foundation also determined that “in the U.S., more than 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness.”
This disease can result in sudden and complete vision loss, without showing signs or symptoms. That’s why it’s crucial that you receive regular eye exams to ensure early detection of glaucoma.
Risk Factors of Glaucoma
To prevent complete vision loss, it is imperative to treat glaucoma as soon as the disease is diagnosed. To prevent glaucoma altogether, you can reduce some risk factors on your own.
The following factors place you at a higher risk for developing glaucoma:
- Unhealthy weight
- Incurring eye injury
- Consuming high amounts of caffeine
- Neglecting eye care and regular eye exams
- Overexposure to sunlight without eye protection
Other risk factors for glaucoma that are relatively uncontrollable include:
- Genetics (family history of glaucoma)
- Ages 40 and over
- Naturally thin cornea
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
Glaucoma Signs & Symptoms
Although glaucoma often damages the optic nerve without obvious symptoms and its early stages may go unnoticed, there are several signs that indicate the presence of this disease. Remain cognizant of the following signs and symptoms:
- Tunnel vision
- Blurry vision
- Distorted vision
- Eyes reddening
- Eye pain or soreness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Severe headaches
Each of these symptoms is related to the build-up of pressure behind the eye. Glaucoma causes a disruption in the eye’s regular drainage system. When fluid behind the eye doesn’t drain properly, it causes eye pressure to increase substantially.
As eye pressure rises, eye pain can become rather intense. This is why many people experience nausea, vomiting, and headaches related to glaucoma.
While these symptoms are indicative of glaucoma, sometimes they aren’t this obvious. A highly-trained ophthalmologist—like Dr. Mehul Patel at UCF Health—who is experienced with eye diseases will take a few precautions to identify and treat glaucoma.
How a Glaucoma Specialist Identifies Glaucoma
Your ophthalmologist will complete a thorough eye exam to identify glaucoma. During your exam, your ophthalmologist will:
- Measure your eye pressure
- Test your peripheral vision
- Assess your optic nerve drain
- Examine your optic nerve to find damage
- Measure your corneal thickness
How a Glaucoma Specialist Treats Glaucoma
If your eye exam is indicative of glaucoma, your ophthalmologist may proceed with any of the following treatment routes:
- Medical eye drops that lower eye pressure
- Laser eye surgery to aid drainage from the eye
- Oral medications to decrease fluid production in the eye
Your eye condition may vary wildly from the next person’s, so your ophthalmologist will determine the best glaucoma treatment route to suit your condition’s specific signs, symptoms and severity.
Glaucoma Surgery Options
In some cases, eye surgery may be the best option to treat glaucoma. The cost of glaucoma surgery will depend on your health insurance. (See our accepted insurance plans here!) If your glaucoma specialist determines surgery to be the most effective treatment route, there are a few surgery options for your ophthalmologist to choose from:
- Minimally-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS): This glaucoma surgery uses minimal incisions and tiny tubes to successfully drain fluids from behind the eye.
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT): For patients who have primary or secondary open-angle glaucoma, SLT may be used to apply lasers to the eye drainage tissue to treat glaucoma on a biological level.
- Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT): The ALT procedure is painless and works to shrink the eye’s drainage passage by way of lasers. This shrinkage causes other areas of the eye to stretch, or widen, which enables drainage flow.
- Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI): For patients with angle-closure glaucoma, the LPI procedure can be used to form a hole in the iris, opening the angle between the cornea and iris. This widening improves drainage by facilitating fluid flow from the eye.
Glaucoma Eye Surgery Recovery
Eye surgery can sound quite intimidating, but with recent technological advancements, glaucoma surgeries have become increasingly painless with minimal recovery periods.
Treatment period will vary based on the specific surgery and the severity of the condition, but most patients can expect to recover within 3 to 6 weeks after surgery.
As with most surgical procedures, the day following eye surgery should be reserved as a rest day. During the weeks following surgery, patients should avoid high-stress activities, like exercise and heavy lifting, to prevent further stress on the optic nerve.
Patients should plan for a friend or family member to pick them up from their eye surgery appointment, as driving after surgery is not recommended. You should not drive until you feel completely comfortable with your sight. Depending on your specific condition and treatment route, you may have to refrain from driving anywhere from one week to a couple of months.
Finding a Glaucoma Specialist Near You
- For patients seeking an ophthalmologist in Orlando, Dr. Mehul Patel is a significantly reputable glaucoma specialist who ensures that each of his patients is thoroughly informed about their diagnosis and treatment options. Dr. Patel’s goal is to provide you with everything you need to know about your condition and potential treatment routes.
- Consider the ophthalmologist’s credentials, educational experience, and professional track record. A highly-experienced medical specialist, Dr. Mehul Patel completed his ophthalmology residency at Howard University Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology in Washington, D.C. He has also earned a master’s degree in Global Health from the University of Oxford. Finding an accredited glaucoma specialist will help you rest assured that your health is in good hands
- When deciding on a glaucoma specialist, it’s extremely valuable to review the doctor’s past patient testimonials. Patient reviews of Dr. Mehul Patel show authentic, firsthand recounts of his level of patient care and attention to detail. Dr. Patel knows that all the credentials in the world can’t eclipse poor bedside manner.
At UCF Health Services, we are committed to providing our patients with highly-advanced treatments and exceptional, personalized care. We want you to live your greatest quality of life, and that begins with regular examinations.
Everyone should commit to proper eye care and regular eye exams to maintain optimal eye health. Visiting your ophthalmologist regularly allows your doctor to detect glaucoma early in its progression. Early detection enables early intervention, or treatment, which is imperative for preserving your vision.
While some changes to vision as you age are normal, others are not and should be brought to an ophthalmologist’s attention. The only way to determine whether your eyes are in their best condition is to visit your ophthalmologist. Don’t neglect your eye care—you only get one pair!
International Glaucoma Association: https://www.glaucoma-association.com/about-glaucoma/types-of-glaucoma/
Glaucoma Research Foundation: https://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/glaucoma-facts-and-stats.php
Bright Focus Foundation: https://www.brightfocus.org/glaucoma/prevention-and-risk-factors
American Academy of Ophthalmology: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/glaucoma-treatment
Eye Center of Texas: https://www.eyecenteroftexas.com/2018/08/what-to-expect-after-glaucoma-surgery/