What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which is the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. When the pressure inside the eye increases, damage to the optic nerve fibers may occur, causing blind spots to develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.
Early detection and treatment by your ophthalmologist (eye M.D.) are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially for older people. But the loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment.
There are several types of glaucoma. Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma in the United States. The risk of developing chronic open-angle glaucoma increases with age. Chronic open-angle glaucoma damages vision so gradually and painlessly that you are not aware of trouble until the optic nerve is already injured.
Angle-closure glaucoma is another form of glaucoma in wherein the drainage angle of the eye may become completely blocked. When eye pressure builds up suddenly, an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack occurs. This is a true emergency. Unless this type of glaucoma is treated quickly, blindness can result.
In some patients, glaucoma has features of both the chronic open-angle type and the acute angle-closure type. This may be called chronic angle-closure glaucoma or mixed mechanism glaucoma.
How is glaucoma treated?
As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eye drops, laser surgery and surgery in the operating room are methods used to help prevent further damage. In some cases, oral medications may also be prescribed.
With any type of glaucoma, periodic eye examinations are very important to prevent vision loss. Because glaucoma can progress without your knowledge, adjustments to your treatment may be necessary from time to time. Be sure to contact our offices and have your eyes examined by our glaucoma specialist today!