About 3 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with glaucoma. Glaucoma is a visual condition that causes damage to the optic nerve due to increased internal ocular pressure (IOP). Generally, patients with glaucoma feel no symptoms until they begin to notice vision changes.
A clear watery liquid called the aqueous humor bathes the lens and cornea of our eyes. This liquid flows in and out of the area behind the cornea and in front of the iris, (called the anterior chamber) nourishing the structures inside the eye. When a patient has glaucoma, this fluid does not drain quickly enough out of the anterior chamber. Soon, fluid builds up, and the internal ocular pressure inside the eye increases. Left untreated, this increased pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness.
Glaucoma is diagnosed with a thorough eye examination that measures eye pressure and includes a visual examination of the optic nerve and a visual field test. This complete examination measures whether loss of vision has begun.
Glaucoma is treated with medicated eye drops, conventional surgery and/or laser surgery.
Risk factors for glaucoma include:
- family history of glaucoma
- African ancestry
- high blood pressure
- advanced age
- corticosteroid use
- previous ocular trauma
For an individuals considering LASIK surgery to correct any of a number of common vision problems, glaucoma poses some unique problems. Individuals with very high IOP or individuals at risk for glaucoma may not be good candidates for conventional or custom wavefront LASIK, All-Laser LASIK, or Epi-LASIK. However, other types of refractive surgery like PRK, LASEK, NearVision CK, P-IOL, or RLE may be more appropriate.
Some types of LASIK surgery involve the use of a microkeratome, a mechanical or laser surgical device used to create a flap of corneal tissue. Attached temporarily to the eye with a vacuum ring that creates suction, the microkeratome briefly but greatly increases the internal ocular pressure of the eye, negatively affecting the patient who has elevated IOP.
The Sacramento LASIK physicians of Griffin and Reed Eye Care insist on using the German engineered Hansatome microkeratome instrument to create the corneal flap for the LASIK treatment. As a leading provider of LASIK procedures, Griffin and Reed Eye Care puts the needs of Sacramento LASIK patients at the forefront in selecting the very best, most technologically advanced equipment and procedures for every Sacramento LASIK treatment.
It's important to note that, while glaucoma does not automatically mean refractive surgery is not possible, the individual's glaucoma should be treated and the condition must be stable before refractive surgery can be undertaken.
PRK, LASEK, CK, P-IOL, and RLE are types of LASIK surgery that do not require a microkeratome and have not been shown to dramatically increase IOP. Discuss these options with your eye surgeon to determine if any one of these procedures is right for you.
If you are ready to choose an eye care professional to be evaluated for any type of refractive surgery procedure, it is highly recommend that you consider a physician who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes nonprofit organization. USAEyes provides objective LASIK information and lists LASIK doctors who meet specific patient outcome requirements and are certified by the nonprofit, nongovernmental, Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance.
The US Food and Drug Administration offers an approved online glaucoma test you can take from the comfort and convenience of your own computer to help you determine if you have or are at risk for glaucoma. Take this convenient online test, which may be helpful, but should not be used in place of a visit to your ophthalmologist at least once every other year.