Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. Untreated damage to the optic nerve due to glaucoma can cause blind spots, and eventually, total blindness.
The anterior segment, or front part of the eye, contains aqueous fluid which circulates through the eye. In a healthy eye, aqueous fluid leaves the eye through a drainage system where it will then return to the blood stream. Glaucoma is characterized by increased pressure within the eye due to an overproduction of aqueous fluid or when the drainage system becomes blocked.
When the pressure within the eye increases, it causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss.
It is important to remember that the early signs of glaucoma can be very slight. Due to this, the disease often goes unnoticed until vision loss has already begun to occur. Glaucoma can occur at any age, however, the risk of developing glaucoma increases sharply after age 35. Additional risk factors for developing glaucoma include severe nearsightedness, a family history of glaucoma, diabetes, and being of African American descent. However, with screening, early detection, and treatment, optic nerve damage and symptoms can be controlled, and vision can be protected.
In order to diagnose glaucoma early and prevent loss of vision, don’t forget to schedule an annual dilated eye exam. Schedule your annual eye exam here.
Early treatment of glaucoma, such as with eye drops can delay or prevent the loss of vision. Following the regimen prescribed by your doctor is extremely important to controlling glaucoma.
Eye drops are often an initial treatment for glaucoma. Additional treatment options for glaucoma include trabeculectomy (glaucoma filtration surgery), and Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the initial consultation take?
Please allow two hours for the consultation appointment, which will include diagnostic testing.
How common is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, and has been estimated to affect 1 in every 50 adults.
How do I know if I am at risk of developing glaucoma?
Most importantly, be sure to have routine eye appointments to be screened for glaucoma. Doing so is important to prevent vision loss. Additionally, to determine if you may be at risk of developing glaucoma, see if any of the following risk factors describe you:
- African-Americans (6 – 8 times more likely to develop glaucoma than Caucasians)
- Older Hispanic Americans
- Patients with past eye injuries
- Individuals over the age of 60
- Diabetics or those with high blood pressure
- Those with a family history of glaucoma
- Steroid users
- People with severe nearsightedness
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Glaucoma often progresses slowly, with vision loss occurring before patients may realize.
Open angle glaucoma is most common. No initial symptoms present with open angle glaucoma, until the gradual buildup of pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, and consequently, peripheral vision loss.
Acute closed-angle glaucoma happens suddenly, when a blockage occurs that prevent the normal flow of aqueous fluid. Acute closed angle glaucoma is considered a medical emergency and if not treated immediately, will lead to blindness.
Symptoms of onset include:
- Severe pain
- Blurred vision
- Seeing halos around lights
Chronic closed-angle glaucoma is similar to open-angle. It progresses slowly and can impact vision without prior symptoms.