Glaucoma Symptoms, Treatment and Surgery
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve which is located in the back of the eye. The optic nerve carries the images we see to the brain. Most of you already know that glaucoma has something to do with the “pressure ” within the eye. The higher the pressure inside the eye, the greater the chance of damage to the optic nerve.
For this reason, early detection and treatment by an ophthalmologist is the key to prevent your vision from being robbed.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Let’s learn a new word and its definition. AQUEOUS HUMOR is a clear, watery fluid that nourishes the cornea, iris, lens, and maintains intraocular pressure. This liquid is not part of the tears on the outer surface of the eye. You can think of the flow of aqueous fluid as a sink with the faucet turned on all the time. If the “drainpipe” gets clogged, water collects in the sink and the pressure builds up. If the drainage area of the eye (DRAINAGE ANGLE) is blocked, the fluid pressure within the inner eye may increase, which can damage the optic nerve. This is a VERY subtle pressure which, in the most common type of Glaucoma, does not hurt and happens over a long period of time. The result of this pressure increase as it pushes against the optic nerve, is constriction (of loss of) the side vision.
How is Glaucoma Detected?
A regular eye examination by your ophthalmologist will measure your intraocular pressure (TONOMETRY); inspect the drainage angle of your eye (GONIOSCOPY); evaluate any optic nerve damage (OPHTHALMOSCOPY); and test the visual field of each eye (PERIMETRY). Some of theses tests that detect Glaucoma may only be ordered if your ophthalmologist suspects you have glaucoma.
How is Glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma cannot be cured, nor can lost vision be replaced or regenerated. However, further visual damage can be prevented by special glaucoma eye drops, pills, laser, and surgery.
With any type of glaucoma (and we’ve only discussed the most common type), periodic examinations are very important to prevent vision loss.
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
High blood pressure alone does not mean you have glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist collects a tremendous amount of information to determine if you are a risk for developing glaucoma.
The most important factors include:
- Age (over 40)
- African Ancestry
- a family history of glaucoma
- Past injuries to the eyes
- A history of severe anemia or shock