Glaucoma is a disorder that results in damage to your optic nerves. If left untreated, the condition can worsen and damage the nerve that sends images to the brain. The loss of nervous tissue leads to permanent vision loss.
There are many types of glaucoma (ex. open angle, narrow angle, pediatric, pigmentary, etc), and glaucoma can affect people of all ages.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people 60 years and older.
There are many causes of optic nerve damage. The most commonly treated cause is high eye pressure. An imbalance in the production and drainage of the fluid in your eye results from an increased pressure inside the eye, which can cause damage to the optic nerve. A damaged nerve can lead to vision loss or even blindness. This pressure can build slowly and be difficult to detect in everyday life.
It may be helpful to image a bucket with two hoses, one for filling the bucket and one to empty the bucket. Now imaging that the hose to empty the bucket is clogged or much smaller than the hose to fill the bucket. The bucket will overflow. Unfortunately, the eye cannot overflow and the extra fluid causes the eye pressure to rise.
Sadly, open angle glaucoma can be asymptomatic in early stages. Most untreated patients do not notice any change in their vision or visual field until the damage is severe.
There is a select part of the population who will suffer from a specific type of glaucoma called “angle-closure glaucoma”, which can result in painful attacks that lead to vision loss. Acute angle closure glaucoma is not as common, but it can develop much more quickly. If you are experiencing intense eye pain, redness in your eye, blurred vision, or nausea, you may need immediate medical attention. This form of glaucoma is an emergency and needs to be treated right away
Pressure is not the only indicator of glaucoma, as high pressure does not always lead to glaucoma and glaucoma can develop in spite of normal eye pressure. Anyone can develop glaucoma, although it is most common in people over 40.
At Desert Eye Associates, we used advanced technology to help diagnose and tailor treatment to your disease. We offer a wide variety of treatment options including medications, laser, and surgery.
- Eye drops are commonly the first line of treatment.
- In certain cases, laser may be an appropriate treatment.
- This is usually the last step used to treat glaucoma and most physicians would not consider surgery unless more conservative measures have been exhausted.
There is no way to completely prevent glaucoma, but early diagnosis and treatment can help control the condition and limit its effects. Often times medication or surgery can help reduce the damage, but glaucoma cannot be reversed. For this reason, at Desert Eye Associates we regularly test for glaucoma and recommend frequent eye exams. Factors such as age, race, family history, and previous medical conditions can all contribute to developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a lifelong disorder in most cases and will require consistent follow up with the doctor to monitor the disease.
If you may be at risk for glaucoma, contact us today to discuss your eye health.