Pterygium

What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is a growth of tissue that invades the cornea from the conjunctiva.  It can start out small and grow to become large enough to obstruct vision. It may start out as a pinguecula (link), which is a yellowish growth on the conjunctiva, and grow into a larger, more obstructive pterygium. These growths on the eye can become swollen and red, or even thick enough to feel as if there is something in the eye. Some ptergia may grow to interfere with the shape of the cornea and even result in astigmatism. The exact cause of a pterygium is not known. Significant exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) rays may be a factor.

What are the symptoms of a pterygium?

  • Growth on the eye
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Blurred vision
  • Gritty feeling
  • Foreign body sensation

What are the causes of pterygium?

The exact cause of growths on the conjunctiva and cornea such as pterygia are unknown. One of the beliefs is that exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun is a cause of pterygia. Another factor that could be the cause of pterygia are dry eye and other environmental factors such as wind and debris. Your eye care professional will be able to diagnose if you have a pterygium. Typically, during an eye exam, your eye doctor will look closely at your cornea, iris, lens and the space between the iris and cornea to determine if you do have a pterygium. By using a special instrument, your eye doctor can look at small sections of your eye very closely to diagnose a pterygium.

What are the treatments for pterygia?

Pterygia treatment depends upon severity of the growth. Eye drops and ointments may be used to relieve irritation and reduce redness in less severe cases. In certain circumstances, surgery may be an option. If it has become large enough that the symptoms are unbearable, and vision has become compromised, talk to your eye doctor about surgical options. Surgery typically lasts only about an hour, but depends upon the severity of the pterygium. There is a chance that the pterygium will return after surgical removal. Your eye care doctor can discuss further techniques used to help further reduce the occurrence of pterytia return. Talk to one of our eye care specialists if you are concerned you may have a pterygium and are interested in treatment.


Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the main nerve connecting each eye to the brain—the optic nerve—undergoes progressive deterioration in a very characteristic way.  The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to be processed in the brain. In a healthy eye, there is a clear fluid found throughout the eye called aqueous humor. As this liquid flows out of the eye, more is produced to maintain pressure within the eye. With glaucoma, the pressure in the eye builds up, and damage to the optic nerve fibers is a result. In the early stages of the eye disease, there are no symptoms and the disease can continue to progress. Regular eye exams are extremely important in early detection and treatment, and help prevent loss of sight.

What Are The Different Types Of Glaucoma?

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma

This is the most common form of glaucoma. It occurs when fluid in the eye doesn’t flow properly through the drain of the eye (the trabecular meshwork). This can cause the intraocular pressure in the eye to build up, and the result is damage to the optic nerve. Each patient’s appropriate eye pressure is different, so it is important to see your eye care physician to determine what eye pressure is best for your eye, if you are suffering from glaucoma.

What Are The Symptoms Of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma?

  • Since glaucoma is a slow and painless process, most patients do not know they have the disease until advanced vision loss has occurred. Overtime, as the optic nerve becomes damaged, there will be blank spots in vision, but those spots usually go undetected until the damage is advanced and the spots are larger. Once vision is lost from glaucoma, it cannot be restored.
  • A diagnosis of glaucoma may be based on the appearance of the optic nerve, testing of the peripheral field of vision, and/or computerized imaging of optic nerve fibers. Since only about half of those suffering from glaucoma have a high eye pressure test, it is important to repeat testing, as the diagnosis could be missed initially.

What Are The Causes Of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma?

Primary open angle glaucoma occurs in the eye when there is a build up of intraocular pressure (IOP). Pressure can build in the eye, when fluid of the eye, called aqueous humor, is not able to drain properly. The eye is constantly producing aqueous humor, and it is constantly flowing from the eye, through the drainage angle. If pressure of the IOP rises in the eye, this can result in damage to the ocular nerve. This nerve is what transmits sight to the brain. If the nerve gets damaged, vision will also be impaired.

What Are The Treatments Of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma?

The only known treatment for glaucoma is the lowering of internal eye pressure.  Internal eye pressure is mostly unrelated to the body’s blood pressure.  Lowering of eye pressure decreases the risk of further loss of vision due to glaucoma, but does not restore vision that has already been lost.  Medicated eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. These eye drops work to lower the internal eye pressure in one of two ways; by reducing the amount of aqueous humor produced, or by improving the flow of fluid through the drainage angle. Like any most medications, these drops need to be applied to the eyes daily. There are multiple different surgical techniques that can be used to reduce the pressure inside the eye, or improve the fluid draining system of the eye. Talk to your eye specialist about treatments that could be right in treating your glaucoma. Learn more about surgical techniques at Illinois Eye at Millennium park.

What Is Narrow Angle Glaucoma?

Narrow angle glaucoma is a less common form of glaucoma that results from a blockage of the internal drainage channel of the eye. Also called closed-angle or angle-closure glaucoma, this form of glaucoma may lead to a sudden elevation of internal eye pressure and permanent optic nerve damage within hours. The increase in eye pressure happens much more quickly than in primary open angle glaucoma. This may also occur as a chronic process in which eye pressure slowly rises over several years, causing slowly progressive optic nerve damage. Individuals of Asian descent, or those that are farsighted, seem to be at greater risk of developing this type of glaucoma. If the drainage angle becomes completely blocked, eye pressure will rise quickly and result in sudden-onset narrow angle glaucoma.

What are the symptoms for sudden-onset narrow angle glaucoma?

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision with haloes
  • Nausea or vomiting

What are the symptoms for chronic narrow angle glaucoma?

  • A slow loss of peripheral (side) and central vision often goes unnoticed until advanced vision loss has occurred.

What are the causes of narrow angle glaucoma?

What are glaucoma treatments

Some people are at risk for this disorder based on the structure of their eyes.  In these individuals, it is recommended that a laser procedure be performed to decrease the risk of developing narrow angle glaucoma.Laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) is a laser procedure in which a tiny microscopic hole is made in the iris.  This allows the iris to relax away from the trabecular meshwork and decreases the risk of narrow angle glaucoma.

Secondary Glaucomas

Secondary glaucomas are a group of eye disorders that may independently cause glaucoma.  Common causes of secondary glaucoma include: pigment dispersion, pseudoexfoliation, eye injury, abnormal blood vessel formation (neovascularization), eye inflammation and prior eye surgery.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of secondary glaucoma differ based on the specific underlying disorder.  In some types of secondary glaucoma, such as neovascular glaucoma, vision loss and pain may occur suddenly.  However, in other types of secondary glaucoma such as pseudoexfoliative and pigmentary glaucomas, vision loss may occur in a very slow, painless fashion.

Treatment

The treatment of secondary glaucoma varies based on the exact cause but usually includes medications, laser surgery or standard surgery.