Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially for older people. While there is no cure for glaucoma, the disease can be controlled and the loss of sight can often be prevented with early treatment, which can include prescription eye drops or laser surgery to help prevent further damage.
Early detection and treatment by Seidenberg Protzko’s experienced eye doctors is the key to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.
In case there are changes, treatment can begin immediately, therefore giving you peace of mind that the health of your eyes is our primary concern.
Aqueous fluid is made inside the eye and bathes tissues in the front part of the eye before being drained away through a sieve-like system called the trabecular meshwork.
The eye is always producing fluid. The eye’s drainage areas may become clogged or blocked. Too much fluid stays in the eye. This increases eye pressure.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve—the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. When optic nerve fibers are damaged, blind spots develop and usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.
Typically, glaucoma is caused when the drainage of the clear liquid that circulates inside the front portion of the eye is blocked and fluid pressure within the eye increases, pushing against the optic nerve and causing damage.
In some people, the drainage of the eye becomes less efficient over time and pressure gradually increases, which is why age can be a factor. Other risk factors include a family history of glaucoma, African or Spanish ancestry, farsightedness or nearsightedness, past eye injuries and systemic health problems including diabetes, migraine headaches, and poor circulation.
Glaucoma often has no symptoms in its early stages and vision remains normal. Only as the optic nerve becomes more damaged do blank spots begin to appear in your field of vision, but you usually don’t even notice them in your day-to-day activities until the optic nerve is significantly damaged.
There are two general categories of glaucoma, ‘open angle’ and ‘closed angle.’
Open-angle glaucoma is slower to progress and is does not cause any loss of vision until glaucoma has already progressed extensively.
Closed angle glaucoma can occur very suddenly and is usually quite painful. While progression is quite fast, the pain felt usually prompts an appointment for medical treatment.
Glaucoma causes increased intraocular pressure, and this is the main focus of treatment. Open-angle glaucoma causes there to be a reduction in the flow of liquid from the eye to the blood stream. In closed-angle glaucoma, the iris pushing against the trabecular meshwork restricts the fluid. In both cases, the resultant pressure (ocular hypertension) is the primary risk factor.
Glaucoma is characteristically slow to progress. There is usually no distinguishable loss of vision until advanced stages of the disease and the vision that is lost cannot be recovered again. For this reason, it is important to always go for regular eye examinations to ensure it is caught early.