Glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness, is estimated to affect 1 of every 50 adults. Although glaucoma can occur at any age, the risk of developing the disease increases dramatically after the age of 35. Glaucoma is also more likely to develop in persons who are severely nearsighted, persons with a family history of the condition, diabetics and blacks. Because the symptoms of early glaucoma are so slight, the disease often goes unnoticed until permanent vision loss has occurred. However, with early diagnosis and careful treatment, visual damage from glaucoma can be prevented.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma, is primarily related to increased fluid pressure in the eye causing loss of side vision. It is a series of diseases which damage the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve and retina causes blind spots in the field of vision. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness will occur. When light enters the eye, an image is focused onto the retina, the delicate nerve layer lining the inside back wall of the eye. The retina then transforms the light images into electrical impulses which are carried to the brain by the optic nerve.
||Vision with Glaucoma
What causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is usually caused by an increase in the fluid pressure in the eye. The front part of the eye contains a clear, nourishing fluid called aqueous which constantly circulates through the eye. Normally, this fluid leaves the eye through a drainage system and returns to the blood stream.
Glaucoma occurs from an overproduction of fluid or when the drainage system becomes blocked, causing fluid pressure to increase. The high pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss. The exact reason the fluid system in the eye stops functioning properly is not completely understood. Much research is being done in this area to further our understanding of glaucoma.
Some of the high risk factors include:
- Increasing Age
- African-American Heritage
- High Blood Pressure
- Family History
- Long-Term Steroid Treatment
- Injury or Trauma to the Eye
What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?
The early symptoms associated with chronic open angle glaucoma, the most common type, are usually unnoticeable. At first, in most cases, the build up of pressure is gradual without any discomfort or pain. Most people do not detect a change in their vision until substantial sight loss has occurred. Certain parts of peripheral (side) vision are affected first with the top, sides, bottom of the field of vision becoming decreased. Later, in the course of the disease, central vision becomes affected, mild headaches and difficulty with vision might be experienced. And, if left untreated, total blindness will result.
The patient stricken with acute closed angle glaucoma experiences more noticeable symptoms. The sudden onset of acute glaucoma can cause blurred vision, severe pain, nausea, and halos around lights. Congenital glaucoma also presents noticeable symptoms in the infant such as enlarged eyes, cloudy cornea, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing.
How is Glaucoma diagnosed?
At Eye Consultants patients undergo a comprehensive dilated eye examination by a physician experienced in glaucoma treatment, along with measurements of the intraocular pressure and state of the art diagnostic tests that include computerized visual fields.
Eye Consultants has moved ahead technologically in the early detection of glaucoma. With the acquisition of the Optical Coherence Tomograph. Eye Consultants can now diagnose glaucoma years before symptoms become apparent to the patient. The 'O.C.T. ' is the most advanced glaucoma diagnostic device on the market today.
The Optical Coherence Tomography
The 'O.C.T.' is one of many benefits to having Eye Consultants as your eye care facility. Using 'Optical Coherence Tomography'Glaucoma Diagnostic OCTa scan of the optic nerve is taken which can be followed over time for changes. This allows our patients the best chance at early detection and initiation of treatment as needed for their glaucoma.
The treatment of glaucoma is usually a lifelong process, requiring frequent monitoring and constant treatment. Typically, patients with glaucoma should be examined every four to six months for the rest of their lives. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be at risk for this disease, please contact us for a consultation.