Glaucoma is a group of different conditions that damage the optic nerve, harming vision. This damage is typically caused by high levels of pressure, which place the eye and optic nerve under stress.
The damage and subsequent vision loss happen gradually, with many not even really noticing until things have progressed quite a bit. The vision loss associated with glaucoma cannot be reversed, making early detection and treatment paramount.
The signs and symptoms of glaucoma can vary significantly depending on the type and how far they’ve progressed. The two main categories of symptoms are open-angle glaucoma and acute angle-closure glaucoma.
Open-angle typically results in blind spots in your side or central vision, usually in both eyes. This will develop into tunnel vision in the later stages. Alternatively, angle-closure results in painful headaches accompanied by blurry vision. People may also experience nausea, eye pain and redness, as well as a halo effect around lights.
Other types of glaucoma include normal-tension glaucoma, pigmentary glaucoma, and childhood glaucoma. These less common forms of the condition provide interesting cases, such as how normal-tension glaucoma occurs despite a lack of internal eye pressure.
Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which gradually develops into blind spots. While researchers still don’t fully understand why this happens, they know that it’s typically related to increased pressure.
This increased pressure happens when there’s a buildup of the fluid that flows through the eyes. Instead of draining out as it’s meant too, via the trabecular meshwork, this fluid can’t flow out fast enough, increasing overall pressure.
The main risk factor for glaucoma is high internal eye pressure, as discussed. However, a few other things also seem to be related to higher rates of glaucoma. These include being over the age of 60, having a family history, being of African descent, having very poor eyesight, an eye injury, or prolonged use of eye drops can all increase your chances of developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a relatively common condition, with an estimated three million Americans living with the disease. Open-angle glaucoma is by far the more common type, with around 2.7 million of those affected by the condition having this type.
If you’re worried about you or a loved one’s eyesight, be sure to talk to a doctor as soon as possible. Only they can offer the proper testing and diagnosis. The damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, making early detection and treatment extremely important. For many people, they won’t really notice anything is wrong until it’s too late.