Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve (the part of the eye that carries the images we see from the eye to the brain.) Over time, it damages nerve fibers, thereby causing blind spots in our vision. In serious cases, it can cause loss of vision.
In addition, glaucoma has to do with eye pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP). It occurs when the clear liquid called the aqueous humor (which normally flows in and out of the eye) cannot drain properly. As a result, pressure begins to build up in the eye. Left untreated, the resulting increase in IOP can eventually damage the optic nerve.
Firstly, the most common form of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma. During open-angle glaucoma, the aqueous fluid that normally circulates in the front portion of the eye is blocked from flowing back out of the eye through a tiny drainage system. As a result, the pressure inside of the eye begins to increase. Under these circumstances, the optic nerve may become damaged, leading to vision loss.
Most worrying of all, most people who develop it notice no symptoms until their vision starts to deteriorate.
In angle-closure glaucoma, the iris (the colored part of the eye) may drop over and completely close off the drainage angle, abruptly blocking the flow of aqueous fluid and leading to a sudden increase in IOP due to the buildup of aqueous fluid. Hence, one may suffer from increased IOP or optic nerve damage. Given the aforementioned, this condition is considered an emergency because optic nerve damage and vision loss can occur within hours of the problem. Usually, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, seeing haloes around light, and eye pain.
What’s more, even people with “normal” IOP can experience vision loss – this condition is called normal tension glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged even though the IOP is considered normal. Although normal tension glaucoma is not yet fully understood, doctors have found that lowering IOP has been in fact been shown to be effective in slowing its progression.
Although childhood glaucoma is rare, it can start as early as in infancy, childhood or adolescence. Like most types of glaucoma, this condition is often hereditary. Normally, there are few, if any, symptoms in the early stages. Likewise, it can cause loss of vision. Furthermore, complete blindness is also a possible side effect.
You may be at risk for glaucoma if you have one or more risk factors:
– Elevated IOP
– A family history of glaucoma
– Advanced age
– Certain optic nerve conditions
If you suspect that you have glaucoma, consult an eye specialist immediately. Early detection and prevention can help to minimize the damaging effects of glaucoma on one’s vision.
Usually, glaucoma may be treated through eye drops. Recently, a new technology known asiStent implantshave been introduced into the market. Unlike traditional eye drops, these implants are able to provide long-term treatment for glaucoma patients. An eye specialist will be able to diagnose the type and severity of glaucoma and suggest an appropriate treatment option.
In summary, glaucoma is a serious eye condition that requires treatment. Otherwise, one may stand to lose their eyesight in the long-run.