Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve of the eyes. The optic nerve is the messenger between the eyes and the brain. When the optic nerve becomes damaged, vision is impaired.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. An estimated 1 out of 50 adults is affected by this disease. With early detection and treatment by your optometrist or ophthalmologist, loss of sight from glaucoma is preventable.
Glaucoma is frequently called the “sneak thief of sight,” because there are often no symptoms before severe vision loss occurs.
Glaucoma is caused by pressure in the eye caused by a build-up of a fluid, called the aqueous humor. The aqueous humor circulates through the eye, nourishing the tissues, and then exits the eye through a drainage system called the angle. When this drainage system becomes obstructed, fluid builds up, causing the pressure inside the eye to rise. In some cases, the eye simply produces more aqueous humor than it can drain, which also results in a rise of pressure. This elevated pressure cannot be felt. There are no symptoms or side-effects until damage has already been done to the optic nerve.
Anyone can get glaucoma, however, some people are at a higher risk. They include:
The two main types of Glaucoma are
There are several subsets of Chronic Open-Angle and Angle-Closure glaucoma such as:
Glaucoma is most often found during a dilated eye examination, which is utterly painless. During an examination, your eye doctor will measure the intraocular pressure of your eye, inspect the drainage angle, evaluate any damage to the optic nerve and test the vision of each eye. It may not be necessary for you to have all of these tests, although it is recommended that you repeat them on a regular basis to determine if optic nerve damage is increasing over time.
Glaucoma damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. But medicine and surgery help to stop further damage.
Glaucoma is usually treated in-office with prescription eye drops and by laser procedures known as Argon Laser Trabeculectomy (ALT) or Selective Laser Trabeculectomy (SLT). The two types of laser surgery help aqueous drain from the eye and reduce eye pressure.
If you are prescribed glaucoma medication, it is extremely important to use every dose, every day, as these eye drops lower eye pressure. If you experience any side effects with the use of the eye drops, contact your ophthalmologist–don’t just stop taking your medication as you may lose vision.
Glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment. Having regular eye exams can help your ophthalmologist find early signs of damage to the optic nerve. Contact FSN Eye Center today at (815) 932-2020 to schedule your eye exam.