Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. It is a 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 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.
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.
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.
There are several kinds of 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. 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 is an emergency and must be treated immediately. If the high pressure is allowed to continue for too long, blindness can result.
Some people are more likely to have glaucoma. These include older people, people who have nearsightedness, those with a family history of glaucoma, people who have had past eye injury, those who have diabetes, or people who have a past history of vascular shock. Also, African Americans are six times more likely to have the glaucoma than people from other ethnic groups.
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.
To learn more, call 913-535-4705 today.