Often showing up later in life, glaucoma is an eye condition affecting your eye’s optic nerve. It is associated with building pressure in the eye. Glaucoma causes damage to your optic nerve and gets worse over time.
The optic nerve is responsible for delivering images to the brain, and if damaged, could cause permanent loss of vision. Untreated, glaucoma results in complete blindness within a few years.
In the beginning stages of increased pressure, glaucoma doesn’t have any early symptoms or pain. This is why regular eye exams are incredibly important; a regular catch up can catch signs of glaucoma while still in the early stages of the disease.
Pressure and Glaucoma
Glaucoma begins to develop when the aqueous humor, or the eye fluid, isn’t circulating normally in the front part of the eye. This causes an increase in pressure. Normally, the aqueous humor flows out of the eye via channels. When these channels become blocked, the fluids build up and create the pressure that causes glaucoma.
While the specific cause of the blockage is unknown, scientists do know that the block can be hereditary, meaning a child can inherit glaucoma from their parents. If you are a parent, be sure to schedule regular eye exams for your child.
Other less common causes include an injury to the eye (blunt or chemical), a severe eye infection, blood vessels in the eye becoming blocked, inflammation, and rarely as a side effect of an eye surgery attempting to correct other conditions.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two major types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma, or wide-angle glaucoma, is the most common type. The fluid in the eye doesn’t drain properly through the trabecular meshwork, creating pressure. Other structures of the eye appear normal.
The second type, angle-closure glaucoma or acute / chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma, is more common in Asia than in the West. In this type, the fluid has trouble draining due to the angle between the iris and cornea being too narrow or blocked. This creates a very sudden buildup of eye pressure.
Glaucoma usually affects adults over the age of 40. However, it can also affect young adults, children, and even infants. Glaucoma also occurs more frequently in African American populations, occurring more often and at a younger age, along with a greater loss of vision.
Those most at risk are people of African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hisapnic, Inuit or Scandinavian descent, those over 40, those with family history of glaucoma, those with poor vision, diabetes, or who take steroid medications such as prednisone, and those who have had trauma to the eyes.
The lack of symptoms is one of the greatest challenges of catching and diagnosing glaucoma. For most people, the first symptom is the diminishment of peripheral vision, which often goes unnoticed until the disease is quite advanced. In some cases, a rapid increase of intraocular pressure to severe levels can produce sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or “halos” appearing around lights.
If you experience vision loss, redness in the eye, seeing halos, eyes that look hazy, nausea or vomiting, a sharp pain in the eye, or tunnel vision (where your vision narrows), you should seek help immediately.
In order to diagnose glaucoma, the doctor will examine your eyes by dilating your pupils. This exam will focus on observing the optic nerve for changes or telltale signs of the disease.
A tonometry, which is a test checking eye pressure, as well as a visual field test to determine loss of side vision, also can help determine if you have glaucoma
Get Your Glaucoma Treated in Colorado Springs
Treatment for glaucoma can come in the form of eye drops, laser surgery, or microsurgery. Eye drops help to reduce the formation of fluid, or helps to increase its drainage. Laser surgery attempts to increase the flow of liquid, or to remove the blockage. Microsurgery is when a trabeulectomy is performed to create a new channel to drain the fluid and reduce intraocular pressure that way.
Although the damage from glaucoma cannot be reversed or restored, early diagnosis can help prevent further damage by reducing eye pressure. By following the treatment plan and keeping up with regular eye exams, you can help mitigate and control the damage and effect glaucoma has in your life. Schedule your eye exam today and avoid further eye damage from glaucoma!