GlaucomaGlaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Although the disease most commonly affects older people, it can occur at any age. Loss of vision is preventable, however, 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. It was once thought that the loss of nerve fibers was due strictly to high pressure in the eye. Eye pressure is high in many glaucoma patients because the fluid in the eye, the aqueous humor, does not drain as quickly as it should. Now it is known that even patients with normal eye pressure can have glaucoma and lose the nerve fibers that allow them to see.
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.
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,
which is between the outer layer and the iris of the eye. 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.
occurs when the drainage angle closes, and almost no eye fluid can
escape. During closed-angle glaucoma, eye pressure can become very
high, resulting in pain. Closed-angle glaucoma is an emergency and must
be treated immediately. If the high pressure is allowed to continue for
too long, blindness can result.
people are more likely to have glaucoma than others, including people
who are older, nearsighted, or diabetic. A family history of glaucoma,
past eye injury, and past history of vascular shock increase a person's
risk as well. Also, African-Americans are six times more likely to have
the disease than people of other races.
Bonner Eye Clinic, 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.