Cranford Ophthalmology
Joseph Calderone, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.
Richard M. Chopin, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Two South Avenue East, Suite One
Cranford, NJ 07016

Phone: (908) 276-EYES (3937)
Fax: (908) 276-3174

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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a primary cause of blindness in the United States, especially among senior citizens. While vision loss is the ultimate result of glaucoma, it is typically avoidable if the disease is detected, diagnosed, and treated early on by your ophthalmologist.

The loss of vision due to glaucoma comes subtly and slowly. Because glaucoma affects your vision so gradually, many patients only notice a vision problem when the condition develops to a point where large portions of their central visual field are covered by blind spots. Sometimes, the patient only becomes aware of his or her vision loss after it has become permanent.

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve of the eye. An image that enters the eye is focused onto the retina and then carried to the brain by the million nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve. The optic nerve is damaged in part by an abnormality in the trabecular meshwork, which acts as a drainage system for a crucial fluid called aqueous humor. An irregularity of the trabecular meshwork leads to an imbalance in the aqueous humor entering the eye and the aqueous humor leaving the eye, leading to a higher intraocular pressure (IOP).

Of the many factors that contribute to glaucoma, an elevated IOP is the most detectable and treatable link to the disease. Accordingly, glaucoma treatments are oriented toward reducing IOP.

Open angle glaucoma, the more common of the two types of glaucoma, affects about 90 percent of adults with the disease. This variety of glaucoma is brought on when the aqueous humor has easy access to the trabecular meshwork (the eye’s drainage system) and the IOP is elevated. The IOP level increases enough to damage the nerve fibers but not enough for the patient to feel the pressure or notice any vision loss until significant damage has already been done.

Narrow angle or angle closure glaucoma occurs when the aqueous humor can not access the trabecular meshwork easily, leading to a higher IOP. Unlike open angle glaucoma, narrow angle glaucoma produces various symptoms that are detectable by the patient, including:

  • severe eye pain and/or headache
  • red eye
  • blurry vision
  • occasional nausea and vomiting
  • halos around lights

While open angle glaucoma can be detected and treated though regularly scheduled eye examinations, angle closure glaucoma is an urgent condition that requires immediate treatment in order to avoid permanent loss of vision.

When you see Dr. Calderone or Dr. Chopin for an eye examination, he will take into account the many risk factors associated with glaucoma, including:

  • age
  • familial history of glaucoma
  • nearsightedness
  • African ancestry
  • any past eye trauma
  • diabetes
  • a history of severe anemia, low blood pressure, or shock

Among a variety of examination techniques, Dr. Calderone may use one or more methods to best fit your needs and his ability to diagnose. If Dr. Calderone finds that glaucoma is present, the typical starting point of treatment is the prescription of eye drops. An alternative to eye drop therapy is laser surgery, which can provide some advantages over eye drops. With laser surgery, the daily routine of taking eye drops, cost of eye drops, and possible side effects can be avoided. Cranford Ophthalmology is one of the only practices in the state with the Duet laser, with which Dr. Calderone can perform selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), a revolutionary treatment which is capable of reducing the glaucoma patient's dependency on eye drops.

It is generally recommended that patients in their 30s and 40s have their eyes examined every two years. Patients in their 50s and 60s should schedule examinations every year or two while patients who are 70 or older should schedule an examination every year.

Cranford Ophthalmology was one of the first eye care practices in the area to have the Heidelberg Retinal Tomograph, a device which uses an infrared laser to digitally image the optic nerve to detect glaucoma in its earliest stages.

If you would like to begin scheduling regular eye examinations to detect and treat glaucoma as early as possible, please contact Cranford Ophthalmology.