Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a progressive deterioration of the optic nerve in the back of the eye.

Between two million and three million Americans age 40 and over, or about one in every 30 people in that age group have glaucoma. About half of all of those with glaucoma are unaware they have it. Glaucoma is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight”. In the vast majority of cases, especially in the early stages, there are no signs or symptoms. Glaucoma is sometimes associated with high pressure within the eye. Individuals with a family history of glaucoma are at increased risk.  The natural aging of the cells that form the optic nerve, the structure responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain accelerates. The damage is progressive with loss of peripheral vision first, followed by reductions in central vision and, potentially, blindness. A person does not usually notice any symptoms until it’s too late. Once a person loses sight from Glaucoma, it usually cannot be restored. The best defense against Glaucoma is an eye examination every 1-2 years. Dr. Weston and Dr. Tronnes at Weston Eye Center are pioneers in the diagnosis and treatment of Glaucoma. Weston Eye Center has the most advanced technology for diagnosing Glaucoma in the early stages, before the patient loses any sight. We were the first center in Oregon to offer OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography - see below for more details) which is an advanced scanning device that actually measures teh nerve thickness and compares it to normal. Dr. Weston was the first surgeon in the Northwest to offer ECP (Endoscopic Ciliary Process) which is a laser procedure usually combined with cataract surgery to manage glaucoma. For more information on Glaucoma or to schedule an eye examination please call our office at 672-2020.

 

Normal Vision End-Stage Glaucoma
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Optical Coherence Tomography

The OCT machine, or Optical Coherence Tomographer, is an advanced scanning device that performs cross sectional imaging of the back of the eye, it’s like a cat scan without the X-Rays.

The OCT is a non-invasive scan of the live tissues in the back of the eye, allowing the doctor to diagnosis and monitor damage to the retina, macula, and optic nerve at a much earlier stage than ever before.

If after examining your eyes the doctor suspects abnormalities, he may request an OCT scan to be done. The scan is a series of cross section pictures, like an ultrasound, that are analyzed to produce an image. In most cases of glaucoma and macular degeneration, the test is performed from one to four times per year. This allows the doctor to graph any subtle changes by comparing each scan to the last.

In cases of unexplained visual disturbances or changes, the OCT can detect swelling in the macula, which causes blurry or decreased vision. This test is essential in monitoring retinal and macular healing patterns, allowing the doctor to determine treatment and follow ups.

Each eye is tested individually, and thousands of pictures are taken per eye in just a few minutes. As a patient, your only job is to look in a designated direction as instructed by the technician.

Weston Eye Center was the first to offer OCT technology and Dr. Weston is a consultant for Optovue, the manufacture of the device that performs the test.

COMMON QUESTIONS:

Q: Will my eyes be dilated?

A: In order to see the back of the eye, it is required to have the pupil enlarged. The OCT test which is commonly performed for glaucoma and macular degeneration, can usually be done without pupil dilation, but it is commonly performed during the annual dilated exam.

Q: How Long Does The Test Take?

A: A baseline test takes approximately 10 minutes. Repeat scans take approximately 5 minutes per eye.

Q: When Will I Know the OCT Results?

A: An analysis will be done, and printed, as soon as the test is complete. If a baseline test is being performed, it will serve as a starting point for future comparisons. When the test is being done along with an exam, it will be interpreted by the doctor who can then discuss the results with you. If you are having the test done on a day when an exam is not scheduled, you will be notified of the results and any need for follow up evaluation.

Q: Is the Test Covered By My Insurance?

A: Yes. Most medical insurances, including Medicare, will cover the test with a medical diagnosis. If you are unsure of your policies’ guidelines you should contact them before having the test done.