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What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that can be caused by increased pressure from the fluid inside the eye. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve. In a healthy eye, this fluid flows out of the eye through a mesh-like path. If this path is blocked, or does not allow good drainage of the fluid, pressure builds up, causing glaucoma. In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms. Experts estimate that half of the people affected by glaucoma may not know they have it.

Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure persists, glaucoma will worsen your sight. When left untreated, glaucoma can cause loss of sight in just a few years. Glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but it may involve each eye to a different extent.

What Are The Types Of Glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not drain properly from the eye.

Angle-closure glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is less common, but can cause a sudden build up of pressure in the eye. This type of glaucoma is caused when a structure in the eye blocks the drainage path, preventing proper drainage.

Are You At Risk For Glaucoma?

Around 3 million Americans aged 40 years and older have glaucoma. Glaucoma most often occurs in adults over age 45, but it can also occur in young adults, children, and even infants. In African Americans, glaucoma occurs at an earlier age and with a greater loss of vision.

You are at an increased risk of glaucoma if you:

  • Are older than 45
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are of African-American or Latino descent
  • Have severe nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Have diabetes
  • Use cortisone or steroids
  • Have a previous eye injury

If you have any of the risk factors for glaucoma, have your eyes examined every 1- 2 years before age 45 and once a year after age 45 or on the schedule recommended by your eye doctor…

What Are The Symptoms Of Glaucoma?

The following are symptoms of glaucoma, which often go unnoticed until an advanced stage of the disease.

  • Vision loss
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)
  • Eye that looks hazy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the eye

How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

An eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes through dilated pupils. The doctor will also check for eye pressure. Glaucoma tests are painless and take very little time.

How Is Glaucoma Treated?

There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.Damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible but studies suggest that for most people, lowering eye pressure slows the advance of glaucoma and prevents further vision loss. For this reason, glaucoma treatments focus on lowering eye pressure.
Prescription eye drops are often used in the early stages of this condition. Some reduce the fluid produced by the eye, while others improve drainage. If medications don’t work, your eye doctor may recommend laser therapy or surgery to help fluid drain out of the eye.