Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the leading cause of permanent blindness in America. It is thought that one in fifty adults will be affected by glaucoma at some point in life. Glaucoma is a conditions that causes slow and often unnoticeable vision loss. The fact the glaucoma is so hard to detect on your own, paired with the fact that any damage caused by it is irreversible, make easy detection extremely important. Your doctor will do a glaucoma screening during each routine eye exam, and it is very important that you go to them as scheduled.

Glaucoma causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, resulting in severe vision loss if not stopped early on. There is a fluid that your eye produces called aqueous humor, which is regulated through a drainage system in the eye. If the drainage system gets blocked, or if the eye is producing more fluid than can be drained, then it creates a build up. This build up increases the pressure in the eye, which over time will cause damage to the optic nerve.

There are several types of glaucoma, the most common of them being primary open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can begin as early as age 35, and develops slowly over time, showing no signs or symptoms.

Those at risk for glaucoma include:

  • Those over age 60
  • Those with a family history of glaucoma
  • African Americans, who are eight times more likely to develop glaucoma
  • Those who are nearsighted

Some patients can be treated with the use of medicated eye drops, others will need surgery. The eye drops prescribed will either decrease the amount of fluid produced in the eye or increase the drainage. Sometimes, both are used. A trabeculoplasty, glaucoma surgery, may be necessary. The surgeon will use a laser to create small holes in the area where the cornea meets the iris. This will increase drainage and therefore decrease pressure in the eye. This surgery is fast and involves minimal discomfort.