At Diagnostic Eye Center, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive eye care to help you maintain your vision and eye health. Our ophthalmologists and optometrists offer a full range of glaucoma treatments for patients in the Houston, Texas area.
- What is Glaucoma?
- Risk Factors for Glaucoma
- How is glaucoma diagnosed?
- Is there a cure for glaucoma?
- What can I do to prevent glaucoma?
- Glaucoma treatment in Houston, TX
- Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery
- iStent Inject
- Kahook Dual Blade (KDB) Goniotomy
- SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty)
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that causes permanent damage to the optic nerve. It is often caused by a progressive buildup of pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure). Over time, this elevated pressure causes optic nerve fibers to become damaged. The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual signals to the brain, and damage to the nerve results in irreversible vision loss. This usually starts with a loss of peripheral vision and can lead to complete vision loss if not controlled.
Glaucoma affects more than 3 million Americans and it is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in the world.1 Because there are often no symptoms until glaucoma is more severe, glaucoma is often called the “silent thief of sight”. Early detection is critical to prevent loss of vision and to preserve quality of life.
What are the risk factors for glaucoma?
Regular eye exams are important because anyone can be affected by glaucoma and early detection is critical. Certain risk factors that may increase your chances of developing glaucoma include:2
- Age: people over 60 are at a higher risk, and the risk increases slightly each year
- Race: African Americans are significantly more likely to develop glaucoma. People of Asian descent are at higher risk for angle-closure glaucoma, and people of Japanese descent are at higher risk for low-tension glaucoma.
- Family history: having a parent or sibling with glaucoma increases your risk
- Eye injury: severe trauma can damage the structures in the eye and can cause increased eye pressure
- Medical conditions: diabetes and high blood pressure may increase your risk for glaucoma
- Steroid use: steroids like prednisone and cortisone, when used for prolonged periods, may increase your eye pressure and lead to glaucoma
- High myopia (nearsightedness): some studies suggest that people with high myopic prescriptions may be at higher risk for glaucoma (even if this was corrected with refractive surgery like LASIK)3
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma can be diagnosed by your eye doctor at Diagnostic Eye Center through a combination of different tests. Your eye pressure will be measured with a blue light (no puff of air here!) and your eyes will be dilated to view the optic nerves. This is part of a standard comprehensive eye exam. If there is suspicion for glaucoma, your doctor will recommend more extensive testing, including a visual field test to map your peripheral vision and imaging of your optic nerves.
Is there a cure for glaucoma?
While there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment is aimed at lowering the pressure inside the eye to prevent further vision loss. We can do this most commonly with eye drops, but sometimes surgery is recommended. These can be simple laser procedures or more complex surgeries, depending on the severity. We also offer minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), which is discussed below.
It’s important to remember that once vision loss occurs, we cannot get it back. Our treatment is aimed at preventing further vision loss, so early detection is key. In its early stages, glaucoma is often asymptomatic. This means that you do not notice any pain or blurred vision at all. This is why yearly eye exams are important for everyone, even if your glasses are working well or you have no vision complaints.
What can I do to prevent glaucoma?
Other than making sure you have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year, new research suggests that exercise, especially vigorous exercise, may help reduce your risk for glaucoma.4 It is also important to control any systemic health conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for glaucoma and what you can do to lower your risk.
Glaucoma treatment in Houston, TX
Diagnostic Eye Center is proud to provide comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options for glaucoma at our Houston office. Our experienced optometrists and ophthalmologists help each patient develop a comprehensive glaucoma treatment plan, and we offer a variety of surgical options. These options include minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), the iStent Inject, Kahook Dual Blade (KDB) Goniotomy, and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT).
Contact us to schedule a consultation and to learn more about which options may be best for you.
What Is Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery?
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS), describes a new genre of procedures and devices to treat glaucoma. It’s called “minimally invasive” or “microinvasive” because the tools required are microscopic in size and the incision is tiny. These procedures are predicated by extreme safety and quick recovery and are minimally traumatic to the anatomy and physiology of the eye.
Usually performed in conjunction with cataract surgery, they are performed through a very small incision. Before MIGS, treatment options for glaucoma were limited to eye drops, lasers, and traditional glaucoma surgeries. Our Houston ophthalmologists will perform a thorough eye exam and determine which procedure is best for you.
The iStent inject is the world’s smallest medical device implanted in the human body. It creates two bypasses between the front part of the eye and its natural drainage pathway, the trabecular meshwork, to increase the flow of fluid. It can be inserted at the time of cataract surgery to improve the eye’s natural outflow to safely lower intraocular pressure. The iStent inject is used to treat patients with mild to moderate glaucoma and may help to reduce the need for topical glaucoma medications. Once implanted, the iStent inject is not seen or felt by the patient.
Kahook Dual Blade (KDB) Goniotomy
The Kahook Dual Blade (KDB) is an elegant, single-use, ophthalmic blade designed to excise a strip of tissue from the trabecular meshwork of the eye. The trabecular meshwork is part of the eye’s natural drainage system, so by removing part of this tissue, which may be diseased, fluid can flow more freely through the eye. As with any other glaucoma treatment, the goal is to reduce the pressure inside the eye. The KDB can be used in a stand-alone goniotomy procedure, or in combination with cataract surgery in patients with mild to moderate glaucoma.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, or SLT, is a minimally invasive laser procedure to treat glaucoma. The goal of SLT is to lower intraocular pressure, which is achieved by applying laser energy to the trabecular meshwork (the eye’s drainage system). The surgeon will use the laser to create a special opening in order to allow better drainage of intraocular fluid. The procedure is performed in a matter of minutes and does not require any down time for the patient.
SLT is highly effective—an estimated two thirds of patients who have a successful SLT procedure are able to stop taking glaucoma medications.5 SLT can be performed more than once if needed.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/glaucoma-awareness.html Accessed January 30, 2023
2 Mayo Clinic. Glaucoma. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20372839 Accessed January 30, 2023
3 Chen SJ, Lu P, Zhang WF, Lu JH. High myopia as a risk factor in primary open angle glaucoma. Int J Ophthalmol. 2012;5(6):750-3. doi: 10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2012.06.18. Epub 2012 Dec 18. PMID: 23275912; PMCID: PMC3530820.
4 Yuan, Ye; Lin, Timothy P H; Gao, Kai; Zhou, Rouxi; Radke, Nishant V.; Lam, Dennis S C; Zhang, Xiulan. Aerobic exercise reduces intraocular pressure and expands Schlemm’s canal dimensions in healthy and primary open-angle glaucoma eyes. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology 69(5):p 1127-1134, May 2021. | DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_2858_20
5 Khandelwal, R., Raje, D., Rathi, A. et al. Surgical outcome of safe surgery system trabeculectomy combined with cataract extraction. Eye 29, 363–370 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/eye.2014.294
The doctors at Diagnostic Eye Center have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.