Kenneth O. Sparks, M.D.
Vitreo-Retinal Surgery & Ophthalmology

Appointments online or call 323-655-8036
Services & Treatments


 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve, which is typically due to excessively high intraocular pressure (IOP).If left untreated, the increased pressure within the eye can lead to optic nerve damage. Optic nerve damage can result in progressive, permanent vision loss, starting with unnoticeable blind spots at the edges of the field of vision, progressing to tunnel vision, and then to blindness.

How and Why does Glaucoma Occur?

Glaucoma occurs if the aqueous humor, the clear, watery fluid in between the cornea and lens, is not removed fast enough or if it is produced too rapidly, causing build-up in pressure. The high pressure distorts the shape of the optic nerve and destroys it. Destroyed nerve cells result in blind spots in places where the image from the retina is not being transmitted to the brain.

What are the Symptoms?

During the early stages of glaucoma, there are rarely any symptoms. This is why regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist are necessary in order to detect early signs. Ophthalmologists and optometrists will diagnose glaucoma on the basis of intraocular pressure, visual field results and optic nerve head appearance. Patients will sometimes notice a patchy loss of peripheral vision, darkened areas, or reduced contrast sensitivity. These patients may benefit from a review by an eye specialist, such as Dr. Kenneth Sparks.


Normal Vision

Vision with Glaucoma


Symptoms of angle closure glaucoma can include pain in or behind the eye, headache with nausea and vomiting and visual disturbances with halos around lights. With angle closure glaucoma, there might not be any symptoms at all and regular exams may catch the early signs.

What Types of Glaucoma Occur?

Glaucoma can be divided roughly into two main categories: open angle and closed angle glaucoma. Visual loss can progress quickly but the discomfort and/or pain often leads patients to seek medical attention before permanent damage occurs. Open angle, chronic glaucoma tends to progress slower than closed angle and the patient may not notice that they have lost parts of their vision until the disease has progressed significantly. Often glaucoma is associated with certain retinal disorders and can be transiently seen after retinal procedures.

Is Recovery Possible from Glaucoma?

Once damage has occurred to the visual field or optic nerve, it can never be recovered. Early detection, however, of glaucoma and IOP can be treated to prevent blindness from occurring. Glaucoma affects one in two hundred people aged fifty and younger, and one in ten over the age of eighty. If the condition is detected early enough it is possible to arrest the development or slow the progression with medical and surgical means.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated with Glaucoma?

  • ocular hypertension, a slightly increased IOP
  • age over 40
  • diabetic
  • high blood pressure
  • migraine headaches
  • nearsightedness, farsightedness, and other visual disturbances
  • a family history of glaucoma
  • being of African‑American ethnicity

What Treatments are Available?

Since glaucoma is due to high intraocular pressure, lowering this pressure is the first step in treating this condition. Eye drops may be prescribed which help lower certain IOP properties or balance the flow of the aqueous humor. Laser therapy is also an option when drugs do not help, but the effects are not permanent. Natural remedies include the intake of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and lutein. Dr. Sparks will discuss treatment options with you during your visit, so schedule an appointment today since early detection is the most important way to prevent blindness.
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