Eye on the latest in retinal diagnostic technology: Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
This high-tech equipment allows physicians to clearly see the inside of the eye and treat problems before they progress.With this tool, we can see a highly detailed image of the eye structure and tissues. It especially allows us to see the back of the eye to better measure the thickness of the retina, macula, and optic nerve This technology helps us to accurately monitor diseases and conditions such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and uveitis.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the US, and can affect patients of all ages, many of who do not experience any symptoms and may not be aware that they have the disease. Glaucoma actually refers to a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve as a result of increased pressure within the eye, but can also be caused by a severe eye infection, injury, blocked blood vessels or inflammatory conditions of the eye.
There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma and involves fluid in the eye not draining properly through the trabecular meshwork. Angle-closure glaucoma involves a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye and poor drainage because the angle between the iris and the cornea is too narrow.
Many patients do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of glaucoma, including no pain and no vision loss. This makes it difficult for many patients to know if they have the disease. But as glaucoma progresses, patients may experience a loss of peripheral or side vision, along with sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision or the appearance of halos around lights.
Since many patients do not experience any symptoms during the early stages of glaucoma, a diagnosis may only be made during a regular eye exam. It is important for patients, especially those with a higher risk of developing glaucoma, to have their eyes checked at least once a year.
Your doctor may perform several different eye exams in order to detect signs of glaucoma. Visual field testing is one of the most common tests performed, and involves creating a map to assess peripheral vision. Blind spots within the peripheral vision are often a warning sign for eye diseases like glaucoma.
The Cirrus Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is one of the latest developments in diagnostic technology and is available at North Toronto Eye Specialists. This testing system produces a highly detailed image of the structures and tissue within the eye to assess the thickness and health of the retina, macula, optic nerve and more, all without even touching the eye.
Normal vision (left) and vision with glaucoma (right)
Once glaucoma has been diagnosed, treatment should begin as soon as possible to help minimize the risk of permanent vision loss. There is no cure for glaucoma, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing further damage from occurring. Most cases of glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, laser or microsurgery. The best treatment for your individual case depends on the type and severity of the disease, and can be discussed with your doctor.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasy (SLT) is an advanced treatment option for glaucoma patients that lowers eye pressure and increases fluid drainage. This procedure offers a simple solution to glaucoma symptoms through a minimally invasive procedure with no side effects, scarring or pain.
The SLT procedure is effective for almost all patients with just one session. It has been performed successfully in Europe for the past 10 years and is now FDA approved for use in the US. It is performed in the office and takes just a few minutes, providing long-term results through the use of a low-energy laser beam.
SLT is most effective for patients unable to keep up with a daily eye drop treatment because of its cost, inconvenience or side effects. SLT controls glaucoma symptoms for up to 5 years with no need for additional medication, and relieves symptoms by promoting the body's natural healing response. There are no major risks or complications associated with SLT and the procedure is covered by most insurance companies.
While there are no surefire ways to prevent glaucoma from developing, regular screenings and early detection are the best forms of protection against the harmful damage that the disease can cause. While anyone can develop glaucoma, some people are at a higher risk for developing the disease. These people may include those who:
Patients should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years, especially if they have a higher risk of developing glaucoma. Older patients may be encouraged to be tested more frequently.
To learn more about glaucoma and how you can be tested for this serious condition, please call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.