As we get older, many potential concerns pop up on our radar. We become aware of lines and wrinkles on the face. We may be told that we should watch what we eat to avoid high blood pressure or high cholesterol. For many adults, vision also becomes somewhat of a matter of importance. Vision is the ultimate manifestation of good eye health. Because of that, we tend to focus on that even though it is the result of several factors coming together. As a center for comprehensive eye care, we have made it a habit of looking further than “good vision” to discern what may affect that in the long term. Glaucoma is a condition that could affect long-term vision and one we want you to know about.
What you Should Know About Glaucoma
- Glaucoma is excess fluid in the eye
For us to have good vision, the eye needs a certain shape. For us to feel comfortable and avoid chronic irritation, the eye needs to have sufficient fluid. Fluid also helps hold the shape of the eye to some degree, making up much of the central vitreous chamber. When fluid does not drain properly from the internal area of the eye, pressure builds. Elevated intraocular pressure naturally affects the optic nerve that sits at the back of the eye. When compressed consistently, the optic nerve suffers damage that, over time, becomes permanent. This is what it is to have glaucoma.
- There are no warning signs
One of the reasons ophthalmologists talk with their patients about glaucoma is that there are no early warning signs that the optic nerve is under pressure. Hearing only that glaucoma is a problem with pressure in the eye caused by too much fluid, one may assume that they will notice signs like excessive eye-watering or pain in the eye. This doesn’t happen. Glaucoma is called the secret thief of sight for this very reason. Vision loss is the first symptom. People do not suddenly lose complete eyesight when they have glaucoma, the impact occurs slowly and subtly enough to be missed.
- There is no cure for glaucoma
Scientific studies have identified what causes glaucoma and what risk factors may make a person more susceptible to increased intraocular pressure. However, a cure has yet to be developed for this condition. While there is no way to reverse vision loss, there is a way to slow or halt the progression of it. The intent of the various glaucoma treatments available today is to reduce the pressure on the optic nerve. In so doing, its function may be preserved.