Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, typically as a result of increased buildup of fluid in the front of the eye, increasing the ocular pressure in the eye. It is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the US, and is often referred to as the ‘silent thief of sight.’
It is generally caused by aging and genetics, but it can also be caused by eye injury, blocked blood vessels, inflammation, or severe infection in the eye. Often glaucoma is asymptomatic until fairly advanced with irreversible optic nerve damage, so early diagnosis and treatment are essential.
Glaucoma treatment is aimed at reducing pressure in the eye. Regular use of prescription eye drops are the most common and often the first treatment. Some cases may require systemic medications, laser treatment, or other surgery. While glaucoma is generally not curable, it can be treated and controlled to prevent vision loss, especially when diagnosed early.
There are two primary types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure.
- Open-angle glaucoma is the most common. With this type of glaucoma, your eye’s drainage system looks normal but the fluid doesn’t leave the eye as it’s designed to do.
- Angle-closure glaucoma is more common in Asia than in Western countries. It is also sometimes called narrow-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is marked by the drain space between your cornea and iris narrowing. This can cause your intraocular pressure to suddenly buildup. Farsightedness and cataracts are also associated with this type of glaucoma.
Risk factors for glaucoma include age, family history, nearsightedness, history of elevated eye pressure, history of an eye injury, African descent, and steroid use.
Schedule your exam today to get a full evaluation of your eye health.