Answers provided by Mitchell Gossman, M.D., ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease where loss of vision takes place due to damage to the optic nerve, usually starting in the peripheral vision, and in most cases, this is associated with elevated pressure in the eye.

How do I know if I have glaucoma?

Unfortunately, it is not possible for you to know you have glaucoma because in its early stages you have no symptoms at all. As the damage continues to the point where you notice there’s something wrong the glaucoma damage is already far advanced.

Can the vision lost be regained with treatment?

Vision lost from glaucoma is gone forever.

How is glaucoma detected?

Periodic eye exams are recommended to detect glaucoma as early as possible when it is easier to treat. Having a pressure screening at a fair booth is not enough – just because the pressure is normal does not mean you do not have glaucoma.

Example of acute angle closure glaucoma. Contributed photo

How is glaucoma treated?

There are several ways to lower the pressure in the eye to treat glaucoma. There are drops, medications, lasers, and surgeries available to get the pressure down to a safe level.

If vision lost from glaucoma cannot come back with treatment, why is treatment needed?

Once glaucoma is diagnosed, treatment is required to get the pressure down to try to prevent further loss of vision. This treatment does not restore the vision already lost, but it can keep it from getting even worse.

Can glaucoma cause blindness?

Yes.

Does it matter if I have a family history of glaucoma?

Yes, if you have close relatives who have glaucoma, you are at higher risk of glaucoma yourself. Everyone should have screening eye examinations but especially if you have a family history of glaucoma. You should encourage your brothers, sisters, children, and parents to also get checked out once you have been diagnosed with glaucoma.

If I have cataract surgery does that take care of glaucoma also?

No, but it is common for the pressure in the eye to be lower after cataract surgery, sometimes allowing you to reduce the medications you are on for glaucoma.

A medication I am on, or will be on, says that it is not safe for use in patients with glaucoma. What should I do?

One form of glaucoma, “narrow angle glaucoma,” is more rare than “open angle glaucoma,” and certain medications are unsafe with narrow angle glaucoma. If you have had a laser for narrow angle glaucoma or have had cataract surgery already you are probably safe to take the medication, but to be sure we recommend you call your eye doctor for advice. You could also mention this at your next appointment prior to starting the medication.

Find out more

Dr. Mitchell Gossman and Dr. Andrea Joplin, ophthalmologists at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, can diagnose and treat glaucoma, among other conditions relating to the eyes. Their office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email info@eaofcm.com.

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