Glaucoma is a commonly misunderstood disease. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over three million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it. DocShop has compiled the following information as an educational resource, and can help you locate a glaucoma specialist near you. Find answers to frequently asked questions: What is glaucoma? What are the symptoms or signs of glaucoma? And examine the treatments available for glaucoma.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma can cause blindness and is, in fact, the leading cause of blindness. Contrary to what many people believe, glaucoma is not a disease that is limited to the elderly. The condition can appear in children and young adults as well. Glaucoma may occur when the natural fluids of the eye are impeded from draining properly, causing intraocular pressure (IOP) to build. Over time, this elevated IOP may damage the optic nerve, leading to the development of glaucoma. Other causes of glaucoma depend on the specific type of glaucoma a person develops. Learn more about the causes of glaucoma.
Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma
Symptoms or signs of glaucoma are often absent in the earliest stages of the disease. Tragically, impaired vision is sometimes the first sign of glaucoma. In other instances, symptoms and signs of glaucoma may include eye pain, clouded or haloed vision, red eyes, headaches, and nausea. Learn more about the symptoms of glaucoma.
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
Frequent, routine eye examinations are the best way to detect glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist will test the eye’s drainage angle (gonioscopy), evaluate the optic nerve (ophthalmolscopy), measure eye pressure (tonometry), and test the visual field of each eye (perometry). The information from these examinations is compared at regular intervals to determine if glaucoma damage has progressed over time. Regular check-ups play a crucial role in the early detection of glaucoma. Learn more about glaucoma tests and diagnosis.
Glaucoma usually affects side (peripheral) vision first. If left untreated, vision loss will continue, eventually resulting in total blindness. If glaucoma is identified early and treated appropriately, good eyesight can usually be maintained. Glaucoma is often asymptomatic for an extended period of time, making routine eye exams extremely important.
There are several types of glaucoma, all of which cause damage to the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, occurs when the angle between the cornea and the iris where fluid is supposed to drain from the eye is open, but the fluid drains too slowly. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle is blocked by part of the iris and fluid cannot drain from the eye. Normal-tension glaucoma occurs in patients with normal intraocular pressure and is treated in the same way as open-angle glaucoma. Congenital glaucoma occurs when a child is born with defects that slow fluid drainage from the eye. Learn more about the types of glaucoma.
Treatment for Glaucoma
There is no cure for glaucoma, but there are treatments for glaucoma, and they fall into two categories: medication and surgery. Both of these treatments for glaucoma manage the disease by lowering the intraocular pressure. Medications and eye drops are common remedies, but there is the possibility of side effects, and they may eventually become ineffective over time. If the IOP cannot be managed by medications or eye drops alone, surgery may be recommended, depending on the type of glaucoma. The surgical goal would be to drain the intraocular fluid by expanding the existing drainage area or by creating a new outlet for the fluids to drain through. Learn more about glaucoma treatment.
Recovery after Glaucoma Treatment
Glaucoma surgery is usually painless, although some patients may experience a slight stinging sensation following the procedure. Local anesthetics are used to diminish any patient discomfort. After the surgical treatments for glaucoma, patients may experience blurred vision or irritation. Typically, however, these effects are short-lived and normal activities, such as going to work or running errands, can be resumed the next day. Learn more about recovery and results after glaucoma surgery.
Talk to a Glaucoma Specialist in Your Area
Glaucoma can be a very serious, debilitating disease. It is crucial to visit a glaucoma specialist if you have any signs or symptoms of glaucoma. Find a glaucoma doctor in your area with the assistance of the DocShop directory. DocShop can help you find an experienced doctor who can determine what is causing your glaucoma and provide you with effective treatments for glaucoma.