What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma, in simple terms, is an eye disease that can cause loss of side vision and blind spots. Eye Pressure causes damage to the optic nerve. In severe cases, it may cause blindness.
Can I prevent glaucoma?
Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but loss of sight due to glaucoma can be. Regular visits to the ophthalmologist for early detection can help with this.
Am I at risk for glaucoma?
Some of the greatest risk factors for glaucoma include your age, your family history, past injuries to your eyes, and African ancestry. After looking at these factors, your doctor will determine if you are at high risk for developing glaucoma.
What causes glaucoma?
A clear liquid called aqueous humor fills the front of the eye. It is constantly produced in small amounts and continuously drains from the eye. This keeps the pressure in the eye equal at all times. But, if the drainage angle is blocked, excess fluid cannot drain from the eye. This causes an increase in pressure on the optic nerve, which can cause damage leading to glaucoma.
How do I know if I have glaucoma?
A complete eye examination from your ophthalmologist is the only true way to detect glaucoma. Your doctor will measure your intraocular pressure, check your eyes’ drainage angle, check for optic nerve damage, and test your peripheral vision. These tests are conducted on a regular basis to establish whether there has been a change in your condition.
Are there different types of glaucoma?
Yes. Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common type and increases with age. It is a gradual process that is painless. This creates a problem because patients with this type of glaucoma typically are not aware of a problem until the optic nerve is already damaged. Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris (colored portion of the eye) covers the drainage angle. If this occurs suddenly, pressure builds quickly creating a true eye emergency. Some symptoms may include severe pain in the eyes, blurry vision, headache, nausea and vomiting, and multi-colored rings around lights. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact an ophthalmologist immediately as blindness can occur if this is not treated quickly. Some patients can experience both kinds of glaucoma.
What are the treatments for glaucoma?
Although glaucoma cannot be reversed, it can be treated with eye drops, oral medications and surgery (both laser and in an operating room). It is important to remember, though, that you play a large role in treating your glaucoma. Your doctor may prescribe medications or eye drops, but it is up to you to follow the doctor’s instructions in taking them and in scheduling regular office visits so your doctor can monitor your vision.