Patients often get confused between cataracts and glaucoma, partly because they are both very common diseases as people get older. However, cataracts and glaucoma are very different diseases. A cataract is a clouding or hardening of the natural lens in the front portion of the eye, while glaucoma is a complex disease that leads to progressive damage to the optic nerve in the back portion of the eye. This damage leads to a progressive and irreversible loss of the visual field. We know that many people with elevated intraocular pressures (over 21 mmHg) will develop glaucomatous damage to their optic nerve; but what is more interesting is that approximately 1/3 of patients with glaucoma actually have normal intraocular pressures (between 10-21 mmHg.) Thus, most ophthalmologists now realize that this is likely not just a disease of abnormal intraocular pressure. Unfortunately, at this point in time the only treatment shown consistently to prevent progression of glaucomatous nerve damage is lowering of intraocular pressure.
At the Las Vegas Eye Institute we have sophisticated testing machinery that allows accurate diagnosis of the disease and careful monitoring of the disease to ensure that progression is not occurring. We utilize the latest spectral domain OCT nerve fiber and ganglion cell complex analysis to get an accurate baseline and then we can carefully analyze this data periodically. Next we create a color image your optic nerve utilizing the Centervue Compass that uses state-of-the-art scanning laser ophthalmoscopy imaging technology to capture accurate and sharp images even in the presence of media opacities such as cataracts. Finally, we perform visual field testing with the latest Centervue technology in which your retina is imaged throughout the entire test. This is very important because the device can then adjust the location of its projections so that we can get an incredibly accurate and reproducible measurement of your visual field even in the presence of eye movement. Dr. Swanic has had visual field tests performed on his own eyes so he knows how difficult this test can be to take. Las Vegas Eye Institute is excited to offer this state-of-the-art technology that can help you achieve optimal outcomes.
All of the information we obtain, including your eye pressure and corneal thickness data, is stored in our electronic medical record system. This allows us to instantly load and compare data captured years ago in a fraction of a second compared to flipping back and forth between old printouts in a paper chart. We then use all of this data to help you understand if starting or altering treatment is necessary.
There are many available treatments for glaucoma. Most patients opt for drops, which are often a highly effective, safe, and convenient form of therapy. Dr. Swanic is also well trained in the use of the advanced SLT laser. The SLT laser can be used by most patients with glaucoma to lower their eye pressures; and it can often reduce or eliminate the need for eye drops. Patients with narrow angles (a more rare form of glaucoma) are also offered alternative laser treatments.
Clinical Trials in Glaucoma
Be sure to inquire about any glaucoma studies that may be ongoing at Las Vegas Eye Institute. Dr. Swanic has been a principal investigator on numerous FDA trials of glaucoma medications and is proud to have been an investigator on nearly every glaucoma medication to receive FDA approval since he finished his fellowship in 2011.