Glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve)
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye disorders that usually have few or no initial symptoms. In most cases, glaucoma is associated with higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye (ocular hypertension). If untreated or uncontrolled, the disease first causes peripheral vision loss and eventually can lead to blindness.
Treating glaucoma can involve surgery or medication, depending on the severity. Eye drops with medication usually are tried first to control glaucoma.
The most common form of glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time. The inner eye pressure, also called intraocular pressure or IOP, rises because the correct amount of fluid can’t drain out of the eye. With the most common form of glaucoma, the entrances to the drainage canals are clear, and should be working correctly. However, the clogging problem occurs further inside the drainage canals (similar to a clogged pipe below the drain of a sink).
Most people will not experience symptoms, nor will they have any early warning signs. If open angle glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause a gradual loss of vision. The disease develops slowly and sometimes without visible sight loss for many years. It usually responds well to medication, especially if caught early and treated.
While anyone at any age can develop glaucoma, a higher risk is associated due to family history, individuals over 40 years of age, diabetics, individuals of african or mediterranean descent, as well as those who’ve experienced an eye injury or trauma.
People with glaucoma rarely experience symptoms, but each day, their vision becomes less and less clear. For this reason, routine eye examinations are more important than ever to help identify symptoms. Your eye doctor can detect elevated pressure within the eye, which can cause damage to the optic nerve that carries images to the brain. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. Call your eye doctor today for more information.