Image of healthy nerve and glaucoma nerve

All About Glauoma

All About Glauoma

Submitted by Pycraft Family… on Wed, 01/15/2020 - 1:30pm

Our eyes are incredible and incredibly complicated organs. Many different components need to work together for us to be able to see.

This means that when one of those components breaks down, it can cause big problems for eyesight. One part of this system you might not think of is the pressure of the fluid inside the eye. Glaucoma is an eye disease in which often characterized by high intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve and leads to permanent vision loss.

The Balance of Fluid Inside the Eye

Our eyes are filled with a fluid called aqueous humor in the front chambers (in front of the lens) and a more gelatinous fluid in the larger chamber behind the lens. A healthy eye maintains the pressure of these fluids within healthy ranges. The same amount of fluid draining out through the pupil as is produced from just behind the colored part of our eye – the iris. Just like a bike tire, too much pressure and too little pressure can be very dangerous! Glaucoma interrupts this drainage cycle and causes pressure to rise dangerously.

Open-Angle and Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The main types of glaucoma are open-angle and angle-closure. Angle-closure glaucoma comes on quite suddenly when the iris physically blocks the drainage canals. It is usually heralded by multiple symptoms, including nausea, headaches, very blurred vision, rainbows around lights, and eye pain. If you experience symptoms like these, get straight to the eye doctor.

About 90 percent of glaucoma cases (about 2.7 million) are the open-angle variety. The way open-angle glaucoma happens is that the drainage canals in the eye get clogged, which prevents effective draining and leads to rising pressure. The process is extremely slow, so the patient might not detect the symptoms on their own until the disease has reached a late stage. This is one reason why regular comprehensive eye exams are so important. We can catch open-angle glaucoma early and begin treatment.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

We all have a certain level of risk of developing glaucoma, but some people are at a higher risk than others. People of Asian descent are at higher risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma. People over age 60, as well as African-Americans and Hispanics, are more at risk of developing open-angle glaucoma.

Heredity is one of the biggest risk factors. Studies have estimated that at least half of all glaucoma cases are familial. Specifically, someone with a sibling who’s been diagnosed is ten times more likely to develop glaucoma themselves. Eye injury and steroid use are also risk factors.

The Importance of Early Diagnosis

At this point in time, there is no cure for glaucoma and the vision loss that comes from it is irreversible. However, current treatments can halt the progress of the disease, especially if it is diagnosed early on. Protect your eyesight by learning about your risk factors and making sure you’re keeping up with your regular eye exam schedule.