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2. Two years ago, at age 59, I became a glaucoma suspect because my cup to disc ratio was .5 in both eyes. My eye pressures consistently are 11 and 12, corneal thickness is 547 and 538, I have a normal visual field testing, and HRT is stable. Assuming everything remains stable, would I be considered a glaucoma suspect for the rest of my life due to my cup to disc ratio, or at some point would my ratio be considered normal for me? [ 11/05/12 ]

This is a very good question and one that ophthalmologists struggle with—that is, how to identify those glaucoma suspects that really will develop glaucoma. A cup to disc ratio alone of 0.5 in both eyes could certainly be normal for you. When ophthalmologists evaluate you for glaucoma, they take into consideration risk factors in addition to what they find during an examination. For example, age is a major risk factor for glaucoma, so as you get older, you may convert from a glaucoma suspect to having glaucoma. Family history is also a risk factor, which I am assuming you do not have because you did not mention it. Other factors include high eye pressure and corneal thickness, which are normal for you. However, a cup to disc ratio of 0.5 does not give the complete story. For example, there are certain features of an optic nerve that may be very suspicious for glaucoma, and the cup to disc ratio does not capture this. Overall, given your normal visual field and optic nerve imaging test (HRT), you may very well never develop glaucoma; however, it is still important to have a yearly exam to ensure that there is no progression or change.

My mother, who is 71 years old, had a retinal detachment, and also has a diagnosis of glaucoma. The retina was reattached, but now she has developed cataracts and can see very little out of her left eye. If she were to get a corneal transplant, will it restore her eyesight? She was also told that she had optic nerve damage. Thank you for your time. [ 10/25/12 ]

I am sorry to hear about your mother's vision problems. It is not clear from your question whether she has scarring or damage to the cornea that requires a cornea transplant. When ophthalmologists make decisions about surgery, they try to gather as much data to understand what the visual potential is, because all surgery entails risk, and it sounds like your mother might need both cataract surgery and possibly corneal transplant surgery. While cataract and damaged corneas can be replaced and essentially made clear again simply by replacing the lens or cornea, damage to the retina is sometimes not reversible and damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma is generally irreversible. This is because the retina and optic nerve are composed of neurons, which are cells that transmit electrical information. So, I would seek the opinion of a retina and glaucoma specialist to see if they deem the potential vision good enough to recommend surgery.

I had an acute glaucoma attack in my right eye, which recently had a trabeculectomy. I have very little vision in the right eye, which also lost the iris. The left eye had a gonioplasty, which burnt my iris, therefore it has a permanently enlarged pupil of 5 mm, so it can't focus. All kinds of light and glare make it very difficult for me to see. Who do you suggest could best help me with the right prescription as well as recommendations for sunglasses? Should it be a low vision specialist, or a glaucoma ophthalmologist working with a low vision specialist? Do you think they can help me? [ 10/01/12 ]

Thank you for your question. I am so sorry to hear about your eye and vision problems. Not knowing how low your vision is, I would advise you to speak with your glaucoma ophthalmologist about the best resources to use. A low vision specialist can certainly be of great help in improving your vision, such as by prescribing low vision aids, optimizing your home situation, advising you on how best to optimize lighting for reading, etc. There are also contact lenses that may help reduce the glare in your left eye, but it may be more work than it is worth if sunglasses can help you. In summary, I do think you can be helped, and your glaucoma doctor should be able to advise you best. Good luck!

I am 77 years old and was diagnosed with glaucoma three years ago (60 percent in the left eye and 10 percent in the right eye). I manage the glaucoma with eye drops, and I also have a cataract, which does not require an operation. I was diagnosed with the cataract from the age of 45, which never grew; however, whenever I see an eye doctor, he/she always wants to operate on the cataract rather than treat the glaucoma. In December 2011, my pressure was 26 and 27, and in March of 2012, when I went for a checkup, the pressure was 25 and 26. Three months later, I went for a checkup at a different eye clinic, and the pressure was 10 and 11. Can the pressure drop this much in three months? Is this normal? Should I continue taking my eye drops? [ 09/28/12 ]

Thank you for your question. Without having examined your eyes personally and without reviewing the results of past exams and tests, it is nearly impossible for me to give a completely accurate answer. What I can say is that if your eye pressure was in the mid-20s in December of 2011 and March of 2012, and you continued using the same eye drop, it would be rather unusual for the pressure to drop to 10 or 11 in June of 2012 because of the drops alone. If you have been on the same drop regimen from December 2011 until now, eye pressure would not likely change that dramatically. Given that you went to a different clinic, I would wonder if the pressure was accurately taken at one or the other. I would recommend having the pressure taken again relatively soon and determine what the pressure really is. Secondly, I would ask the eye doctor to examine you for any signs of inflammation within the eye. It is always possible that there is inflammation that is decreasing the amount of fluid created in the eye (hence the lowering of the pressure). To reiterate, it is unusual to have intraocular pressure in the mid-twenties on multiple occasions, and then without changing medications have the pressure drop that much. If the readings were accurate, the doctor should be able to help you find a reason for the drop in eye pressure. I would highly advise continuing the eye drops until you can be re-examined by your eye doctor and at that point you can determine whether or not the drops should be continued. Do not stop the drops your own. I wish you the best of luck.

I had a laser procedure performed on my left eye after my doctor noticed changes in my visual field test. He said it would help lower my eye pressure. The procedure was painful and my pressure was not checked afterwards. I went home and had to keep my eye closed because of the pain and discomfort. Two days later, I called and he said I had some inflammation, so he prescribed Durazol. My symptoms got worse. It turns out that my pressure was 68 and probably had been for a few days. I have now gone to a glaucoma specialist who says that 95% of my optic nerve has been destroyed. I had a trabeculectomy, but the pressure keeps going up. The doctor says I still have effects of the inflammation from laser surgery. My guess from the comments made by three other doctors is that the laser power was too high and that I had sustained high pressure, which has caused most of my problems. Could all of this have been caused by laser power that was too high? How do they know what power to use? [ 09/19/12 ]

Thank you for your question. First, let me say that I am incredibly sorry that you have gone through all of this. Without having examined your eyes personally and without reviewing the results of past exams, tests, and procedure notes (including the laser settings used), it is nearly impossible for me to give a completely accurate answer. I don't know if it was related to the laser alone, the use of the steroid eye drops (Durezol), or a combination of both. Laser treatments, either selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) or argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT), are both commonly used as treatments for glaucoma.

The appropriate power that needs to be used varies for each patient, and is mostly related to the amount of pigment in the trabecular meshwork (i.e., the drainage system) of the eye. The more pigment in the trabecular meshwork, typically the less power is needed. When eye doctors perform SLT they typically start at a relatively low power and increase it until they see tiny bubbles form at the trabecular meshwork after about 50% of the laser spots are created. When performing ALT, doctors should see a blanching of the trabecular meshwork to know that they have used enough power. Again, you start at a lower power and work up until you see the blanching so that you know that you are not over-treating.

Laser surgery is relatively well tolerated; however, it is a surgery. Before any surgery, your eye doctor should discuss the risks, benefits, and alternatives before you agree to have any procedure performed in the office or in the operating room. There is a small risk that the laser procedure can cause an increase in the eye pressure and that is always something I discuss with my patients. I have my patients wait approximately 20-30 minutes after the procedure and I check the pressure before they leave to make sure that it has remained stable. If the pressure goes up immediately, this can often be reversed in the office with a couple of additional pressure lowering drops and in most people the elevated pressure does not last long. It is very common to have a slight headache after the laser procedure, and patients may not feel like doing much that evening, but extreme pain is unusual. There is often a small amount of inflammation that occurs in the eye after the procedure, and it is not uncommon that doctors prescribe an anti-inflammatory eye drop for approximately one week. Unfortunately, I am not sure if you will ever really know why the pressure went up. Hopefully your eye doctor can get the pressure under control and work to preserve as much vision as possible.

I am a 74-year-old female, and at times I have forgotten the exact time that I put the first drop of Combigan in my eyes, which my doctor recommended that I use only twice each day. If I accidentally used the drops less than 12 hours apart, was that harmful to my eyes? [ 09/07/12 ]

No, it is not harmful if you have spaced it less than 12 hours apart. But, like any medication, the dosing is designed to maximize its effectiveness, based on how long it lasts in your system. Of course, each patient is unique and different, so I would not worry too much about the scenario that you described. It is more important that you are using the medication consistently. If you can remember to space it 12 hours apart, that is ideal, but again, it is more critical that you take both doses in a given day.

An optometrist suggested that I should go to an ophthalmologist since he was concerned about the possibility of glaucoma. Now, a year later, I've finally made an appointment with an ophthalmologist. Apart from the eye pressure that I'm starting to feel, there is a light yellow excretion. Is this a symptom of glaucoma? Every morning when I wake up, my eyelashes are "glued" together. If so, what can I do? My eyes are also tearing, as if I'm crying all the time. [ 09/07/12 ]

Thank you for your question. I am glad that you are seeing an ophthalmologist soon to help answer your questions. I am unclear about the light yellow excretion. If you are referring to discharge, that sometimes does build up overnight. First, it is important that you determine the cause of the excretion when you meet with the ophthalmologist and ask him/her if the following would be helpful to manage the discharge:

There are steps that I have provided to my patients to improve the condition of their eyelids and manage the discharge. The process is called “lid hygiene”—I think of it like flossing your teeth—and it is a step that one should take in the morning and at night, if possible. Sometimes my patients just start once a day, while they are in the shower, for example. They can take a warm towel and place it on their eyelids, to liquefy the secretions that the glands of their eyelids are excreting. Then, they take a cotton swab, dip it in warm water, and gently clean along the eyelid margin (both the bottom and the top eyelids). Some of my patients use a 1:1 mixture of warm water and baby shampoo. There are also over the counter products (look for “lid scrubs) but I think these simple steps explained above may help you.

I am 55 years old and my dad had glaucoma. During my last visit to the ophthalmologist, my pressure was 22. My field test showed 'some' changes compared to the previous test. The doctor put me on timolol (one drop before bed). My main problem is glare and I can't get used to it. I never had this problem prior to the eye medications. Should I stop the eye drops? I'm being referred to a glaucoma specialist for follow up. I've never been formally diagnosed with glaucoma yet and would like to know what to do in the meantime. The glare is so annoying and I feel like I can't focus. [ 09/07/12 ]

Thank you for your question. I would first call and speak with the prescribing ophthalmologist and discuss with him/her whether it is appropriate to stop timolol; however, it is unusual to have glare symptoms from this medication. You could ask your doctor about using the medication only in one eye, and test out if it really is causing you to have the problems with glare. Sometimes patients notice problems coincidentally when they change their routine, and the glare may be caused by a different issue altogether. Certainly this is an important issue to discuss with your ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist, and please do not make changes to your medication regimen until you talk with your eye doctor(s).

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional; it is not intended to constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. All medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. Also, although we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the posted information reflects the most up-to-date research.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

Last Review: 04/28/13

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