Understanding glaucoma’s symptoms, causes and treatments
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic
nerve in your eye, which carries information from
the eye to the brain – allowing you to see clearly. It
occurs when fluid builds up in your eye, increasing
the eye’s pressure. This increase in pressure slowly
damages the millions of fibers that make up your
eye’s optic nerve.
There are two major types of glaucoma: primary
open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma:
- Primary open-angle—Happens gradually
as the eye does not drain fluid as well as it
should, leading to pressure buildup and optic
- Angle-closure—Happens when the iris is close
to the drainage angle, or the area of the eye that
drains fluids, and blocks the fluid from draining.
What are symptoms of glaucoma?
In most cases, glaucoma persists with no
symptoms until irreversible damage is caused to
the optic nerve and vision loss takes place. As the
disease develops, blind spots will begin to appear
in your peripheral (side) vision, causing an effect
similar to tunnel vision.
What causes glaucoma?
When fluid cannot drain properly from your eye,
the pressure is not regulated and builds, damaging
the optic nerve. As glaucoma damages the small
fibers in the optic nerve, your vision worsens. If
all of the fibers are gone, you will become blind.
Important risk factors include age, race, genetics,
and medical conditions.
How do you treat glaucoma?
The damage glaucoma causes will be permanent.
However, certain measures can be taken to slow
the progression of the disease and prevent further
damage. Glaucoma is usually treated using daily
eye drops that either decrease eye pressures or
reduce the amount of fluid in the eye. Another form
of treatment includes a laser eye surgery called
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Sources: All About Vision, AAO, AOA, Glaucoma.org, NIH.gov
Regular eye exams are important
Eye exams aren’t just for correcting vision issues. They are also key in the early detection of systemic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Your eye exam is one of the most important preventative care services available to you.