Glaucoma is a common eye disorder referring to a group of eye diseases causing progressive damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve receives light-generated nerve impulses from the retina and transmits these to the brain, where we recognize those electrical signals as vision.
The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable containing numerous wires. If the nerve is damaged, transmission of information to the brain is affected and blind spots develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.
What are the different types of glaucoma?
Open-Angle Glaucoma: Is called the “sneak-thief of sight” because in its early stages, there are no symptoms. This occurs slowly as the drainage area in the eye becomes clogged. If not treated, damage to the optic nerve can result in loss of vision and could eventually lead to blindness.
Pressure builds up when the fluid inside the eye is unable to drain. Side (peripheral) vision is damaged gradually. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common kind of glaucoma.
Closed-Angle Glaucoma: Is a less common form of glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can occur slowly and progressively or very quickly and can only be detected through an eye exam. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when increased pressure causes the iris to be pushed forward, blocking the drainage channel completely. Blurry vision, rainbow halos around lights, headaches or severe pain may occur with closed-angle glaucoma. If not diagnosed and treated immediately blindness can occur.
What causes glaucoma?
While everyone is at risk for glaucoma, certain people are at a much higher risk and need to be checked more frequently by their eye doctor. The major risk factors for glaucoma include the following:
- Elevated eye pressure
- Family history of glaucoma
- African ancestry – African-Americans are eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than caucasian Americans, and glaucoma often develops at a much earlier age in African-Americans
- Nearsightedness – which is the inability to see distant objects clearly
- Age over 45 years
- Previous eye injuries
In fact, glaucoma creates at least some vision loss in more than half of the approximately 2.5 million Americans estimated to have the eye disease and is the second leading cause of blindness. Early detection and treatment by your ophthalmologist are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.
If you have any question about glaucoma, please give Fillmore Eye Clinic a call to schedule an appointment.