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Glaucoma Q&A with Dr. Gustafson

Elderly Woman sitting on bench in park

Q: What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease process in which pressure builds up inside of the eye and damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the nerve that sends the information from your eyes back to your brain. Once the optic nerve is damaged, peripheral or side vision loss occurs.

Q: What causes glaucoma?
There are a number of different types of glaucoma, and the exact cause for glaucoma is still unknown. The most common type of glaucoma results when the fluid pressure inside of the eye increases. This can be caused by certain medications, injuries to the eye, or an abnormal eye structure.

Q: Who gets glaucoma?
Glaucoma is more common in people over the age of 40, however, a congenital form of glaucoma does exist that occurs rarely in children. African American people over 40 and Hispanic people over 60 have an increased risk of glaucoma. A family history of glaucoma is also a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma. Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease may be at greater risk of glaucoma, as well.

Q: How is glaucoma harmful to vision?
The elevated eye pressure that is typical in glaucoma gradually damages the optic nerve and progressively decreases peripheral or side vision.

Q: Will I go blind from glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the US. If glaucoma is left untreated blindness eventually results. Fortunately, glaucoma is very treatable and when patients follow treatment regimens glaucoma is manageable for most patients.

Q: How can I tell if I have glaucoma?
Typically there are no symptoms of glaucoma which is why it is so critical to have regular eye examinations. Once patients notice a decrease in their side vision from glaucoma the disease process is often quite advanced.

Q: How is glaucoma detected?
Glaucoma is detected by a number of tests. The intraocular pressure (pressure inside of the eye) is measured during comprehensive examinations to determine if it is in the normal range. Patients will recognize the “air puff” test as a common way to measure eye pressure. Visual field tests measure the peripheral vision to ensure it has not changed and is normal for the patient’s age. The optometrist always looks at the inside of the eye during an exam to get a direct view of the optic nerve to assess if glaucoma is present. Additional tests such as retinal photos and laser scans of the retina help the optometrist to gauge if a patient has glaucoma or is at risk for glaucoma.

Q: How is glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma is typically treated with eye drops to lower the pressure inside of the eye. There are numerous surgical treatments for glaucoma which are used when the drops are no longer effective for an individual patient.

Q: Will my vision be restored after treatment?
Unfortunately, no. Any vision loss from glaucoma is permanent. Treatment of glaucoma is aimed at preserving vision and preventing vision loss. This is again another reason why it is important to have regular eye examinations to screen for risk of glaucoma.

Q: Can glaucoma be prevented?
Glaucoma isn’t preventable but there are things to do to ensure early detection and reduce your risk for glaucoma. See an optometrist every 1-2 years (as directed by the optometrist) for a comprehensive eye examination to monitor for any changes that would indicate glaucoma. Know your family history and if you have a family history of glaucoma share that information with your health care providers. Regular exercise, as prescribed by your physician, can help reduce your eye pressures and reduce the risk of glaucoma. Lastly, wear eye protection when working with power tools or playing sports such as racquetball or basketball.

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To our valued patients,

At The Eye Doctors, Inc. the health and well-being of our patients is at the core of everything that we do. In light of the rapidly changing situation and the spread of COVID-19 we made the difficult decision to close the clinic on Tuesday, March 17 th.

At this time, the Wal-Mart Vision Center remains open limited hours for urgent glasses repairs, pick-ups of existing orders and new contact lens orders. The vision center is open every day from 10 AM to 2 PM and on Tuesdays from 6 AM to 2 PM, with the hour of 6 AM to 7 AM reserved for senior citizens.

If you are experiencing an eye emergency, please call 952-955-4427 to leave a message for one of the doctors. Messages will be checked Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will re-open when it is safe to do so. We look forward to seeing you when things improve and thank you for your continued support of our practice. Please continue to our website for further information.

Dr. Melissa Viker & Dr. Britt Gustafson

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The Eye Doctors, Inc. COVID-19 Information:

Our clinic closed on March 17th and will remain closed until it is safe to re-open.  Please watch our website and Facebook page for updates.

Urgent or Emergent Eye Concerns

If you have an eye emergency, we are here to help.  Please call 952-955-4427 and one of the doctors will return your call.  The messages are monitored Monday through Saturday between 9 AM and 5 PM.  Eye emergencies include (but are not limited to): eye pain, a recent onset of redness in one or both eyes, flashes of light or sudden onset of new floaters, double vision, and sudden change/worsening of vision in one or both eyes.

Glasses and Contact Lens Orders:

The Wal-Mart Vision Center is open daily at this time from 10 AM to 2 PM and 6 AM to 2 PM on Tuesdays for limited services. The hour of 6 AM to 7 AM on Tuesdays is reserved for senior citizens.  One optician is on duty to provide urgent glasses repairs and adjustments; at this time no new orders for glasses are being accepted. Existing orders of contact lenses and glasses may be picked up from the vision center.  New orders of contact lenses can be placed in store and will be shipped to your home if we do not have the lenses in stock. Additionally, you may order contact lenses at

Contact Lens Safety

There is no evidence that contact lens wearers are at greater risk for a Corona Virus infection, per the American Optometric Association Cornea and Contact Lens Section.  Please follow the below tips:

  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling contact lenses
  • Avoid using contact lenses if you are ill with any cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Reduce your risk for infection by avoiding sleeping, napping, swimming or showering in contact lenses
  • Replace your contact lens case every 2 months
  • Use fresh contact lens solution each time you store your lenses
  • Do not reuse single-use/daily disposable lenses