Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, affecting more than 200,000 Americans each year. It is an eye disease that typically affects older people and persons with diabetes, but it can occur at any age. With early detection and treatment, loss of vision is preventable.
The optometrists at Overland Park Eye Center provide effective glaucoma treatments to help slow or prevent vision loss. Call Overland Park Eye Center today to schedule an appointment!
What is glaucoma?
The eye has approximately a million tiny nerve fibers running from the back of the eye, through the optic nerve. These nerves allow us to see. Glaucoma causes the destruction of these fibers. The most common symptom of glaucoma is high pressure in the eye. But even patients with normal eye pressure can have the damaged nerve fibers that lead to glaucoma.
The reason that eye pressure is high in many glaucoma patients is that the drainage system in the eye is not working properly. The fluid in the eye, called aqueous humor, does not flow out of the eye as quickly as it should. The drainage system lies in a part of the eye called the angle, which is between the outer layer and the iris of the eye. This angle can be open or closed.
The eye has approximately a million tiny nerve fibers running from the back of the eye, through the optic nerve. These nerves allow us to see. Glaucoma causes the destruction of these fibers. The most common symptom of glaucoma is high pressure in they eye. But even patients with normal eye pressure can have the damaged nerve fibers that lead to glaucoma.
Is there a glaucoma test?
Many patients, miss the opportunity to detect glaucoma in its early stages, because there is no pain and no noticeable change in vision. An eye exam is the best way to catch it before there are noticeable symptoms. Yearly eye examinations are the key to the prevention of vision damage from glaucoma and are highly recommended.
Types of glaucoma
There are several kinds of glaucoma:
Open-angle glaucoma: The most common form of glaucoma is called chronic open-angle glaucoma. The drainage angle is open in these patients, but the eye fluid does not drain as quickly as it should. Because this type of glaucoma does not have symptoms beyond the slow decay of your vision, regular eye tests are important for early detection.
Closed-angle glaucoma: Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle closes, and almost no eye fluid can escape. During closed-angle glaucoma, eye pressure can get very high and there is pain.
Angle-closure glaucoma: Angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency and must be treated immediately. If the high pressure is allowed to continue for too long, blindness can result.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
Some people are more likely to have glaucoma. These include:
people who have nearsightedness
those with a family history of glaucoma
people who have had past eye injuries
those who have diabetes
people who have a past history of vascular shock
African Americans are six times more likely to have glaucoma than people from other ethnic groups
What are glaucoma treatments?
Glaucoma is easily and most commonly treated with eye drops that lower the eye pressure. If the pressure does not fall to a low enough level with drops, then surgery may be necessary. Glaucoma surgery opens up the drainage system in the angle so that the eye fluid can flow more freely. Furthermore, following a diabetic eye care regimen can help reduce discomfort and make symptoms more manageable.
Can glaucoma be cured?
In general terms, no, glaucoma cannot be fully cured, as damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. However, through treatments like eye drops, laser procedures, and surgery, we are able to slow damage and prevent further damage from occurring. These glaucoma treatments can effectively relieve your symptoms even if they cannot entirely reverse the damage.