Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve, and can often result in vision loss and even blindness in some cases. The optic nerve in the eye is responsible for receiving images from the retina, and then sending those images to the brain. Just as an electric cable consists of many wires, the optic nerve consists of several nerves. In fact, the optic nerve consists of a bundle of more than one million nerve fibers.
Glaucoma is an insidious disease that progresses very slowly, and about half of the people in the U.S. (or an estimated 1.5 million people) who suffer from the disease don’t even realize that they have it. If you think you might have glaucoma, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away, as early detection and treatment that includes eye drops, eye surgery, or both can help preserve your eye sight.
What are the main causes of glaucoma?
Medical studies indicate that too much internal pressure in the eye is a major risk factor for glaucoma. In order to ensure that the eye receives constant pressure, it produces a liquid called aqueous humor. Healthy eyes continue to produce a certain amount of aqueous humor as it drains from the eye to maintain a standard pressure inside the eye. However, if pressure continues to rise to an abnormal level, it damages the optic nerve, which may result in a loss of vision over a period of time.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The main problem with glaucoma is that symptoms typically go unnoticed during its early stages. However, as the disease progresses, black spots may appear in one’s vision. Also, a glaucoma patient’s peripheral vision starts to deteriorate. If left untreated, a case of glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness.
How can glaucoma be treated?
Fortunately, there are several different forms of treatment for glaucoma, including traditional surgery, laser surgery, and medication. Much like any other form of eye disease, the key to avoiding glaucoma is early prevention and treatment. Medication is in the form of eye drops that you can use to relive internal eye pressure.
Laser surgery is another form of treatment for glaucoma, where the doctor uses a beam of light in order to allow more drainage of fluid.
On the other hand, the traditional form of surgery for glaucoma is called a trabeculetomy, where the doctor removes a piece of tissue from the white part of the eye. He then creates a small reservoir into which the aqueous fluid can drain, thus relieving internal pressure in the eye.
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your doctor can discuss a wide range a treatments with you to help solve the problem. And, if you think you may have the disease, be sure to contact your optometrist immediately.