Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that we don’t talk about enough. As the world’s leading cause of blindness, glaucoma certainly deserves some attention. And those who are at risk of developing this disease deserve some education about how to spot the signs of vision changes early, when treatment may be most effective. Here, we discuss some of the questions patients have when they are told they have or are at risk of glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
We mentioned that glaucoma is a potentially serious eye disease that can cause blindness if not treated. The tricky aspect of getting treatment is that there are no early warning signs that glaucoma has developed. The majority of people who have this condition do not know it until some degree of vision loss has occurred. Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure inside the eye builds to dangerous levels. This pressure, if not caught and managed, eventually damages the optic nerve. Damage is irreparable. If vision loss occurs, it cannot be reversed. However, prompt treatment at any time can decrease the risk of further vision loss.
The term Glaucoma is used as a blanket for two common types of increased intraocular pressure. The types of glaucoma are:
Primary open-angle glaucoma. This painless form of increased intraocular pressure is caused by lack of proper drainage from the eye. The extra fluid builds up in the eye, increasing pressure on the optic nerve.
Angle-closure glaucoma, or closed-angle glaucoma. This more serious and thankfully less common type of glaucoma that can involve a sudden attack in which vision loss may occur. If an acute attack of angle-closure glaucoma occurs, immediate medical attention must be sought. Also referred to as narrow-angle glaucoma, this condition happens when the iris, the colored part of the eye, blocks the drainage angle through which fluid exits the eye. This blockage causes a rapid increase in intraocular pressure that can coincide with other symptoms. These include:
- Severe eye pain
- Blurry Vision
- Seeing rings or halos around lights
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
An ophthalmologist diagnosis glaucoma via a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
- Measuring intraocular pressure
- Inspecting the eye’s drainage angle
- Using a special instrument or imaging to observe the optic nerve for damage
- Testing peripheral (side) vision
How is Glaucoma treated?
When a person is diagnosed with glaucoma, they are usually prescribed medication that can help reduce the pressure on the optic nerve. In some cases, surgery may also be needed to address more severe damage.
Get to know your glaucoma risk. Contact Central Florida Eye Institute at (352) 237-8400 to schedule your appointment with us.