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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can lead to damage to the eye's optic nerve and result in blindness.

Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma, affects about 3 million Americans–half of whom don't know they have it. It has no symptoms at first, but over years it can steal your sight. With early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss and blindness.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. As glaucoma remains untreated, people may notice that although they see things clearly in front of them, they miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. Without treatment, people with glaucoma may find that they suddenly have no side vision. It may seem as though they are looking through a tunnel. Over time, the remaining forward vision may decrease until there is no vision left.

How is glaucoma diagnosed?
The diagnosis of glaucoma can only be accomplished by a throrough eye examination which includes tonometry (to measure intraocular pressure), ophthalmoscopy (to examine the optic nerve head), and visual field testing (to measure the side vision).

Whether or not you get glaucoma depends on the level of pressure that your optic nerve can tolerate without being damaged. This level is different for each person. That is why an eye examination is very important.

How is glaucoma treated?
Most forms of open-angle glaucoma can be controlled with medication. Few patients will go blind if their glaucoma is diagnosed in time and treated properly. The medication is typically in the form of an eyedrop, though severe cases of glaucoma may require the addition of an oral medication.

New Technology - the SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty) does not rely on medicines, instead, uses an
advanced laser system to target only specific cells of the eye- those containing melanin, an natural pigment. This allows for only these cells to be affected, leaving surrounding tissue intact. As a result, your body's own healing response helps lower the pressure in your eye. Before the SLT the laser option was ALT (Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty) this laser was much more powerful using 100,000,000 milijules of power compared to 3 milijules of power in the SLT.

Will I feel anything with the laser treatment?
Generally, the laser treatment does not cause pain. However, studies show some patients experience a sensation during treatment. You may see a green flash of light, and feel nothing from the laser. The lens used on your eye may cause some redness or irritation.

How SLT is performed?
SLT is performed conveniently in our office and only takes a few minutes. Prior to the procedure, eye drops will be given to prepare the eye for treatment. The laser applications are made through a special microscope, similar to the one used for eye examinations.

Is the SLT covered by insurance?
The SLT is approved by Medicare and Medicaid and is covered by most insurance carriers. You may want to call and ask our staff to check with your insuranace company.

Will I still need to continue using my eyedrops following the SLT procedure?
The goal is to eliminate the drops altogether. Since everyone's condition varies we can not guarantee that you will eliminate all of your drops. At the present time about 80% of our patients are off their drops, and almost every patient eliminates at least one. The results have been very favorable.

Can I just continue to take the eye drops for glaucoma?
If you do not chose the SLT you may continue to take your drops is you chose. History has demonstrated however that most people fail to regularly administer their drops causing further damage to their eyes. Since glaucoma drops do not help the patient see any better, they are commonly forgotten. The cost of the drops are also substantial and can cost anywhere from $25.00 to $50 per Rx. This cost is not paid by insurance companies and can cost some patients up to $1,800 per year. The side effects of taking any medication are also a factor. This is something that you can discuss with your doctor at the time of your visit.



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