Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can cause damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is often referred to as the "silent thief of sight" because it typically has no symptoms in its early stages.
There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
- Open-angle glaucoma, also known as chronic glaucoma, is the most common type of glaucoma. It is characterized by a gradual increase in pressure inside the eye, called intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the optic nerve over time.
- Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as acute glaucoma, is less common but more serious. It is caused by a sudden increase in IOP due to a blockage in the drainage angle of the eye, which can lead to a rapid loss of vision.
Risk factors for glaucoma include:
- Age: The risk of glaucoma increases with age
- Family history: Glaucoma tends to run in families
- Ethnicity: African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans have a higher risk of glaucoma
- Medical conditions: People with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other medical conditions that affect the blood vessels have a higher risk of glaucoma Eye injuries
- or surgery: People who have had an injury to the eye or eye surgery have a higher risk of glaucoma
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma:
- No symptoms in early stages
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision
- Tunnel vision in advanced stages
Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma:
- Sudden severe headache
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Red eye
Diagnosis of glaucoma can be done by one of our optometrists through a comprehensive eye exam which includes measuring the intraocular pressure, examination of the optic nerve and retina, and visual field testing. Additional testing such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and pachymetry can also be performed.
Treatment of glaucoma depends on the type and stage of the condition. The main goal of treatment is to lower the intraocular pressure to prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
It is important to note that glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Regular eye exams are crucial for people who are at risk of glaucoma to catch the condition early on and prevent vision loss.