What Causes Glaucoma

What causes glaucoma and what treatments are available to slow the progress of this “silent thief of sight?” Find out more from Elmquist Eye Group. We have an excellent track record of success in detecting the early warning signs of glaucoma and helping prevent permanent vision loss.

What Causes GlaucomaDr. Trevor Elmquist is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and has been selected as one of America’s Top Doctors in ophthalmology by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. He has been providing exceptional eye care to the residents of Fort Myers, Cape Coral and throughout Southwest Florida for over 25 years.

Dr. Kate Wagner, his partner, and Dr. Nina Burt, his associate, are board certified optometrists. No matter what type of concern you may have about your eyes, our talented Elmquist Eye Group team offers a full range of vision care, from routine exams for glasses to bladeless laser-assisted cataract surgery to glaucoma laser surgery.

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve located at the back of the eye.

The optic nerve is made up of about 1 million nerve fibers, like an electrical cable that contains many wires. It is essential for vision because it carries images of the objects we see to the brain.

There is also a natural fluid in the eye, called aqueous humor, which is produced constantly to nourish the front of the eye between the lens and the cornea. This fluid helps to maintain a healthy level of pressure inside the eye and flows out through a microscopic drainage system.

If the drainage area (called the drainage angle) becomes blocked and is unable to drain properly, pressure within the eye can build up and push against the optic nerve fibers, causing blind spots to develop. Permanent vision loss results when the entire optic nerve is significantly damaged or destroyed.

Who is at risk for glaucoma?

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma from babies to senior citizens, but it is more common in adults at an older age. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, other possible risk factors include:

  • Over age 60
  • Immediate family member with glaucoma
  • African-American, Asian or Hispanic descent
  • Long-term use of steroid medications
  • Previous eye injury
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Thin corneas
  • High myopia (nearsightedness)
  • History of elevated pressure inside the eye
  • Presence of other eye diseases

The National Eye Institute (NEI) estimates about 3 million people age 45 and older have glaucoma, and many are not even aware that they have the disease. 

How is glaucoma detected? 

Comprehensive dilated eye exams are the best way to detect glaucoma; a glaucoma screening that checks only the pressure of the eye is not sufficient.

At Elmquist Eye Group, we will measure your eye pressure (tonometry); inspect the drainage angle of your eye (gonioscopy); evaluate your optic nerve; and test the visual field of each eye. People at higher risk for glaucoma should get a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, every one or two years.

How is glaucoma treated?

For most people, eye drops are the primary treatment to help reduce the pressure inside your eye. Sometimes, oral medications are also prescribed. When medications are not enough to keep the intraocular pressure under control, laser surgery or surgery in the operating room may be needed to help promote proper drainage and prevent fluid and pressure from building up.

If you would like to learn more about what causes glaucoma and whether you may be a risk, you can count on Elmquist Eye Group to provide you with answers to your questions and the highest level of care.  Call us today at (239) 936-2020 for an appointment.