Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It’s often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total blindness.

Because most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from this increased pressure, it is important to see your eye doctor regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs. There are two main kinds of glaucoma: “open angIe” and “closed angle”.

Open Angle Glaucoma

Open angle is the most common kind of glaucoma. It develops slowly as people age, causing the drainage area of the eye to become clogged. Not enough fluid drains from the eye, resulting in slow pressure build up. This causes the loss of side (peripheral) vision. However, the loss is so gradual, it may go unnoticed.

Closed Angle Glaucoma

Closed angle glaucoma is less common than open angle, The drainage area in the eye suddenly becomes completely blocked, as a result, eye pressure builds rapidly, causing blurred vision and rainbow halos around lights. Other symptoms are, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and severe pain. If not treated right away, blindness can occur quickly.

Who’s at Risk?

Anyone can get glaucoma. But some people have a higher tendency. Risk factors include:

  • Age
  • African ancestry
  • A family history of glaucoma
  • Previous eye injuries or surgeries
  • Health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure

Treatments

In severe cases of glaucoma, procedures may be used to improve drainage.

  • Lasers may be used to increase drainage
  • Surgery can be done to create new drainage areas

Eye drops and medications may be used to lower eye pressure. Some medications reduce the amount of fluid your eye makes, while others increase the drainage in your eyes.