Three million Americans are living with glaucoma. Most common in those over the age of 60, glaucoma causes gradual vision loss.
Nicknamed “the sneaky thief of sight,” individuals with this condition can have no early symptoms. Many do not even realize they have it until damage has occurred.
Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and how it can affect patients.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma develops when the pressure in the eye becomes too high. It damages your optic nerve, which conveys visual information to your brain to create images.
Your eye contains fluid that helps keep it functioning. Usually, there is a balance between the fluid entering your eye and the fluid exiting.
However, a blockage or slow drainage can cause this pressure to build up, leading to optic nerve damage. One of the most important things to know about glaucoma is that it can progress slowly, with no symptoms at first.
Patients may not notice anything until their vision begins to be impaired. Unfortunately, once the damage has occurred, it is irreversible.
In addition to your age, some factors are known to increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Those with conditions like diabetes and hypertension can be more likely to develop glaucoma.
Those who experience trauma to the eye or are taking certain medications can have a heightened risk too. Your family history and race can also play a role.
What Are the Different Types of Glaucoma?
There are two primary types of glaucoma: open-angle and closed-angle. The type of glaucoma a patient experiences is a result of what is causing the increased eye pressure.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. Almost all glaucoma patients are affected by this type.
It occurs as a result of aging. The drainage pathway remains open with open-angle glaucoma, but fluid drains too slowly, causing it to build up.
Closed-angle glaucoma is rarer. However, immediate medical attention is crucial. In this case, a bulge in the iris narrows or blocks the drainage pathway.
This can occur suddenly. Patients can experience symptoms including:
- Intense eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Eye redness
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
The best treatment for glaucoma is early detection. For this reason, regular, comprehensive eye exams are essential, especially for those with an increased risk.
Exams give your eye doctor a chance to screen you for glaucoma. That way, you can start treatment before permanent damage occurs.
One of the most common treatment methods for glaucoma is eye drops. They work to decrease the pressure in your eyes by either decreasing fluid production or facilitating the outward flow of fluid.
In some cases, some glaucoma patients may need to undergo surgery. These procedures can reduce reliance on eye drops or avoid the need for them altogether.
A shunt, a tiny medical device, can be implanted. It makes it easier for fluid to drain from the eye.
If you have glaucoma, our ophthalmologists will work with you to determine the treatment that can provide the best possible outcome.
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