As G.I. Joe, everyone’s favorite patriotic cartoon, used to tell us, “Knowing is half the battle.” Knowledge is power. And there are at least a dozen more cliches we could throw out to emphasize the importance of furthering one’s understanding of the world around us. This is perhaps never more evident than when talking about medical procedures – even common procedures. Since many of us did not go to medical school, we are not always exactly sure what our physicians are talking about during our checkups. And while most physicians are more than happy to explain these procedures and other industry jargon we may not understand, it is often easier to do a little research yourself. This way you can ask educated questions during your checkup instead of just trying to understand what’s going on.
For instance, when your eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist – tells you they are performing Gonioscopy, do you have any idea what they are talking about?
What Is Gonioscopy?
Gonioscopy is used to evaluate the internal drainage system of the eye, also known as the anterior chamber angle, where the cornea and the iris meet. This is the point where fluid inside the eye – the aqueous humor – drains out of the eye and into the venous system. It is this simple system that helps maintains proper intraocular pressure (IOP). If the drainage system is blocked or not working properly, IOP can increase, causing damage to the optic nerve – the nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain – and resulting in glaucoma.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: With POAG, the most common form of glaucoma, a blockage develops within the eye’s drainage canals. This traps fluid and causes an increase in IOP. Think about a clogged pipe. Everything may look okay on the outside, but there is an issue under the surface, an issue that could cause a lot of problems if not diagnosed and rectified early. And, just like a clogged pipe, there may be no symptoms or no early warning signs. This is why, as we have already said, regular eye exams are so important.
Narrow Angle Glaucoma: Also referred to as acute glaucoma or angle closure glaucoma, narrow angle glaucoma is one of the rarer forms of glaucoma, affecting nearly 500,000 Americans. It is most common in people of Asian descent or those individuals with farsightedness (hyperopia). Narrow angle glaucoma is characterized by a sudden increase in IOP, often in only a matter of hours. This dramatic increase in IOP can cause severe eye pain, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision and headache. This rapid increase in IOP is the result of – you guessed it – narrow angles. But what exactly does this mean?
Under normal circumstances, the angle cannot be seen. Gonioscopy is performed using a special contact lens prism placed on the surface of the eye, after the eye has been numbed using drops. A beam of light is then used to illuminate the angle.
There is no pain typically associated with this exam, and the entire procedure takes only a couple minutes.
Schedule Your Comprehensive Eye Exam Today!
The Anne Arundel Eye Center, led by board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles, is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. 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, 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.