Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve, the part of the eye which receives images collected by the retina and sends them to the brain. Every eye maintains a certain amount of internal pressure, called intraocular pressure. When this pressure rises to abnormal levels however, it can put extra stress on the optic nerve, causing significant damage. Optic nerve damage results in loss of vision, and ultimately blindness. The front of the eye is constantly producing a fluid called aqueous humor. A healthy eye will continually produce small amounts of aqueous humor to ensure consistent pressure within the eye. When normal drainage becomes slowed or blocked, pressure increases, and may lead to glaucoma. There are several different types of glaucoma the two most common type arechronic open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma.
Risk factors for chronic open-angle glaucoma include:
- Advanced age.
- Family history of the disease.
- Higher-than-normal intraocular pressure.
- Certain ethnic races, particularly those of African descent.
- Certain diseases or conditions, especially diabetes, farsightedness or nearsightedness, or previous eye trauma or surgery.
Closed-angle glaucoma is less prevalent, but is considered a real eye emergency. This type of glaucoma occurs when a patient’s pupil moves or dilates and actually blocks off the drainage angles in the eye. This is considered a medical emergency in which an ophthalmologist should be contacted immediately to avoid any loss of vision.
Symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma include:
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rainbow halos around lights
High risk factors for closed-angle glaucoma include:
- Extreme farsightedness
- An iris that is abnormally large or far back in the eye
- Advanced age
- Certain ethnic races, especially Asians
Treatments for glaucoma:
There a wide range of treatments for the disease, including medication, laser surgery and traditional surgery. The treatment (or combination of treatments)for an individual is chosen based upon the type of glaucoma and other details of the particular case.