Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Although the disease commonly affects older people, it can occur at any age. Loss of vision is preventable if the disease is detected early and treatment is begun.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma causes the destruction of the nerve fibers that run from the back of the eye to the brain.
Types of Glaucoma
The most common form of glaucoma is called chronic open angle glaucoma. The eye’s drainage system lies in a part of the eye called the angle. This angle can be open or closed, depending on the type of glaucoma. In chronic open angle glaucoma, the eye fluid does not drain as quickly as it should, even though the angle is open.
Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle closes, and almost no eye fluid can escape. Eye pressure can become very high, resulting in pain. Closed-angle glaucoma is an emergency and must be treated immediately or blindness could result.
People who are older, nearsighted, or diabetic are more likely to develop glaucoma. A family history, past eye injury, and past history of vascular shock increase the risk as well.
In many patients, the disease is not detected in its early stages because there is no pain and no noticeable change in vision. Early diagnosis by an eye doctor is the key to the prevention of vision damage from glaucoma. At Bonner Eye Clinic, we include glaucoma tests in routine eye examinations.
We begin treatment with eye drops that lower eye pressure. If the pressure does not fall low enough with the drops alone, surgery may be necessary. In glaucoma surgery, we open up the drainage system in the angle so that the eye fluid can flow more freely.