What Is Glaucoma? Learn the Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can eventually lead to vision loss or even blindness. The effects of glaucoma aren’t reversible and most cases don’t have any symptoms, making getting comprehensive eye exams of the utmost importance. 

Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects your optic nerve, gradually reducing your peripheral and overall vision. The condition progresses slowly and often has no symptoms beyond vision loss. Our eye doctors at Hardin Valley Eyecare can spot the signs of glaucoma early and implement treatment. Risk factors for glaucoma include age, ethnicity, family history, and your own personal medical history.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is what sends messages to your brain that become the images that you see. Both of your eyes have an optic nerve in the back that connects your eyes to your brain. If they become damaged then you run the risk of reduced vision and even blindness without treatment.

Most cases of developing glaucoma are the result of increased pressure in the eye. However, tension glaucoma can occur where there is no increase in eye pressure but still result in optic nerve damage. Glaucoma affects your eye health by eroding the tissue comprising your optic nerve, resulting in the loss of your peripheral vision (side vision).

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Glaucoma Symptoms

Glaucoma comes in a few different types with primary open-angle glaucoma being the most common. It develops slowly and doesn’t have any signs or symptoms beyond vision loss. In many cases, reduced vision may be the only indicator, so it’s important to see your Knoxville eye doctor for regular eye exams. 

While this is true for the majority of glaucoma cases, acute-angle closure glaucoma is unique. Unlike other types, it comes on much more quickly due to narrow angles in the eye’s drainage system, leading to a rapid increase in eye pressure. 

Symptoms of acute-angle closure glaucoma include: 

  • Severe eye pain
  • Redness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Halos around lights
  • Blurred vision
  • Visual disturbances

Acute-angle closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency so it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately if you experience symptoms. It also shares symptoms in common with other eye conditions, so you will need a professional examination to determine the actual cause to receive effective treatment.

Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment in Knoxville, TNCan glaucoma be cured

Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catharine Abbott have years of experience working with virtually every aspect of optometry. From new glasses and contacts to identifying signs of eye diseases, they are able to help maintain your vision health. Our team at Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical also stays up to date on the latest technology to ensure the most comfortable exams possible.

Diagnosing Glaucoma in Knoxville, TN

We take a lot of pride in using the latest in eye care technology at Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical. A prime example is our no-puff glaucoma testing machine. Until recently, having air puffed into your eye has been the best way to detect signs of glaucoma. Now our team is able to check for glaucoma without the nerve-wracking puff portion of the exam.

This is all thanks to the iCare Tonometer. This device allows Dr. Thompson and Dr. Abbott to check your eyes for signs of glaucoma without the need for puffs of air. The end result is an eye exam that’s more comfortable and less stressful than before. The iCare Tonometer is just one of the many ways we strive to make eye exams as pleasant as possible for our patients.

To learn more about our doctors and the iCare Tonometer, click here!

Glaucoma Treatment

If signs of glaucoma are detected then Dr. Travis or Dr. Abbott can begin therapy to save your vision and keep it from getting worse. 

Medications for high eye pressure come in different forms. Both eye drops and oral medications are available, but eye drops for treating glaucoma are more common. It is very rare for any oral medications to be used unless treating angle closure.

Surgery may become necessary if glaucoma eye drops aren’t able to reduce your eye pressure. In these cases, the structure that drains the fluid out of your eye is opened up so more fluid is able to drain therefore reducing your eye pressure. Surgery will be your best option, creating new drainage paths or removing the tissue that is causing the blockage.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

As the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, it’s important to know the risk factors of glaucoma. Talk to your doctor if you run a risk of glaucoma to learn more about how it’s checked for during comprehensive eye exams and treatment options.

Common risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Age: people over the age of 60 have a higher risk that goes up as they age. For African Americans, this begins at age 40.
  • Family history of glaucoma: having a close relative who had glaucoma puts you at a higher risk of the disease. 
  • Ethnicity: along with African Americans, those of Chinese and Japanese descent are at a higher risk of certain types of glaucoma.
  • Taking certain medications: certain medications known as corticosteroids may put you at higher risk of glaucoma.
  • Medical history: diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure put you at a higher risk of glaucoma.
  • Eye problems: thin corneas, chronic eye inflammation, and physical trauma to your eye can all increase your risk of high eye pressure.

Do you need a comprehensive eye exam in Knoxville to check for glaucoma? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

Glaucoma reduces your peripheral and overall vision by damaging your optic nerve. It is slow-moving and can often go unnoticed due to having no symptoms. At Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical, Dr. Thompson and Dr. Abbott are able to tell if signs of glaucoma are present and can begin treatment to preserve your vision. Risk factors include age, ethnicity, and family history.

Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has been serving Knoxville since 2009. Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catherine Abbott specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions, and problems and are committed to improving the quality of life in the Knoxville community through enhanced vision. Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way, you can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (865) 888-0892.

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Thompson was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. His family has lived in the Hardin Valley area since 1998, and he graduated from Karns High School in 2004. Dr. Thompson runs Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical alongside his wife, Dr. Catherine Abbott.

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"Dr. Thompson is super professional, and has some of the best 'bedside manner' that I have ever witnessed from any doctor. His staff was very helpful in assisting me with picking out regular frames and sunglasses. I’d happily recommend Dr. Thompson to anyone looking for a eye doctor."
Cody C.