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Your optic nerves are your one and only bridge between the eyes and the brain -- which is why glaucoma, which destroys the optic nerves, is such an ominous threat. The good news is that our Kailua-Kona optometrist at Wally Kojima, O.D. and Associates can help safeguard your eyes against the irreversible vision loss caused by this disease.
Glaucoma is a term used to describe progressive, permanent destruction to the fibers that make up the optic nerves, the large nerve bundles that relay visual signals to the brain for interpretation by the brain's vision center. Glaucoma may occur for a variety of reasons, but most of the time the direct trigger is high fluid pressure. The eye constantly manufactures a supply of internal fluid called the aqueous humor, with any excess fluid draining away through a drainage mesh in the iris and escaping through the angle between the iris and the conjunctiva. This normally keeps the pressure level constant. But if the drainage system isn't functioning as it should, the pressure within the eye builds and builds. This increase wreaks havoc on the delicate optic nerve tissues; as the tissues die off, first peripheral vision and then central vision may be irreversibly lost.
Most causes of glaucoma are of the variety known as open-angle glaucoma. This is a gradual deterioration caused by a drainage mesh that is sluggish but still functional, causing years of damage before the eyesight starts to fade. But in individuals with angle-closure glaucoma, the drainage system may completely fail all of a sudden, producing acute eye pain, headaches, nausea, and possible blindness without immediate emergency care.
Because glaucoma does much of its early damage without displaying symptoms, annual eye exams from our eye doctor in Kailua-Kona are a must if you wish to catch this problem as early as possible. This is especially true is you have African-American or Asian-American ancestry, are over 40, or have underlying conditions such as diabetes.
Dr. Kojima can perform a number of simple tests to check for glaucoma, from eye pressure testing (tonometry) to peripheral vision evaluation and direct observation of the optic nerves. If we see any indications of glaucoma, we will recommend immediate treatment. Fortunately, modern medicine enables us to control glaucoma and minimize any further damage to your eyes. Treatment options include:
Our Kailua-Kona optometrist can help you and your loved ones enjoy many more years of optimal vision, even if you have glaucoma. Call 808-331-8081 to schedule an eye exam today! We look forward to meeting with you!