What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a serious disease that can cause irreversible damage to vision. It affects over 2 million people in the United States alone and is extremely difficult to detect, as it usually has no initial symptoms. Without regular eye exams, glaucoma can go undetected for a long time. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness behind cataracts.
Glaucoma is usually caused by ocular hypertension, which occurs when the pressure inside of the eye becomes too high. Inside of the eye is a space called the “anterior chamber”, which is located at the front of the eye. This chamber is responsible for delivering fluid that sustains the surrounding tissues. The fluid then exits through an opening between the cornea and the iris.
In the most common form of glaucoma, the drainage system becomes blocked which causes the fluid to build up and increase the pressure inside of the eye. The pressure puts the optic nerve at risk of damage, which inevitably results in loss of vision and eventually blindness. This type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma.
Other Types of Glaucoma
Narrow-Angle Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma comes in a series of attacks each lasting several hours, which can cause severe pain, sensitivity to light, and nausea.
Normal-Pressure Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma is similar to “open-angle” glaucoma, in that it damages the optic nerve. However, this form occurs with normal eye pressure, and researchers are still figuring out why this occurs.
Pigmentary Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma occurs when some of the pigmented granules of the iris flake off and clog the aforementioned drainage system. This is an especially rare form of glaucoma.
Secondary Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma is the result of an eye injury or infection.
Congenital Glaucoma: Congenital glaucoma is hereditary and occurs in children who are born with defects in the eye fluid drainage system.
Most types of glaucoma produce no symptoms until permanent vision loss occurs, which is why it is strongly recommended to have routine eye exams. Only a medical professional can determine whether or not you have developed glaucoma. If detected early, glaucoma can be treated and vision loss can be avoided.
The only way to prevent glaucoma-related vision loss is through early detection. If you have glaucoma and are looking for treatment, or if you have not had an eye exam in a few years, contact Commonwealth Eye Center today to set up an appointment!