When eye fluid, known as the aqueous humor, isn’t circulating properly, intraocular eye pressure (IOP) can increase. Normally, this fluid drains out of the eye through a mesh-like channel; however, if this channel is blocked, the fluid has nowhere to go, causing IOP to increase.
Elevated IOP is one of the leading risk factors for glaucoma. Eye pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), and normal eye pressure falls between 12 and 21 mm Hg. Anything above 21 is considered elevated. However, elevated eye pressure does not always mean an individual will develop glaucoma. There is a large group of people called “ocular hypertensives,” who have increased IOP, but do not suffer the optic nerve damage associated with glaucoma. Currently, 4-7% of the United States population over the age of 40 has ocular hypertension, but may not actually ever develop glaucoma.. This is also what we mean by the term Glaucoma Suspect – someone who has signs of glaucoma, like increased IOP, but lacks others, like optic nerve damage or a visual field defect.
“It’s like all of the players are on the field, but the game has not started,” explains April Pevear, a Patient Care Specialist at Anne Arundel Eye Center.
About 10 percent of people with ocular hypertension will develop glaucoma within five years. And the higher the eye pressure, the greater the risk. So, it is extremely important to manage IOP as best we can. This is typically done a few different ways:
Consistent Monitoring: In the words of Harry Potter character Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” Depending on your situation, medication may not be required at this moment. If this is the case, monitoring by a healthcare professional is your best course of action, says Andrew Iwach, M.D., a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It is important to receive regular examinations and visual field tests to monitor potential glaucoma progression.
Eye Drops: You may be prescribed eye drops. This can help reduce the likelihood of glaucoma by more than 50 percent over a five year period, but only if taken consistently as prescribed by your ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, research shows that approximately 40% of patients do not take their eye drops as prescribed.
Lifestyle Changes: “What I tell my patients about lifestyle modifications is to get moving, especially if [they] aren’t already … to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially green, leafy ones, drink your daily cup of coffee but don’t binge,” says Yvonne Ou, MD. In fact, researchers at Brigham Women’s Hospital have found that a healthy diet with a high intake of leafy green vegetables could reduce the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma, or POAG, by as much as 30 percent.
Glaucoma Treatment in Annapolis, Maryland
The Anne Arundel Eye Center (AAEC) is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. A consultation with board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles will help guide you through the treatment process and help you determine the best course of action.
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Staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals, AAEC’s state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Samuel Boles, Dr. Nicole Kershner Regis, Dr. Kathryn Turner, and the eye care specialists here at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010. AAEC is staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals who will help guide you on your healing journey.