- In glaucoma, the internal ocular fluid (different from tears) that normally flows through the front section of the eye cannot drain properly. This causes a buildup of pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.
- Your ophthalmologist uses a series of painless tests and exams to check you for glaucoma. Other tests may be done if your ophthalmologist suspects you may have glaucoma related damage.
- Vision loss is usually preventable if glaucoma is detected early. There is no “cure” for glaucoma, but early detection and ongoing treatment can control the disease and usually preserve vision, or postpone the deterioration.
- Treatment for glaucoma can include medication and/or surgery. The best treatment for each person is determined by a number of factors, including type and severity of glaucoma, and the person’s medical history and lifestyle.
- Open Angle Glaucoma usually has no symptoms until vision loss has occurred
- Approximately 80,000 Americans are legally blind from glaucoma. The incidence is higher in certain other countries. Many more have visual impairment.
- Seniors, African-Americans and those with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk for the primary disease and should have screening eye exams more often.
Medications for glaucoma — even eye drops — can affect the whole body and may interact with other medications. It is very important for all your doctors to be aware of any medication you take. Secondary Glaucoma may result as a side effect from systemic Diseases, and from certain systemic Medications.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Most people who have glaucoma don’t notice any symptoms until they begin to lose some vision.
As optic nerve fibers are damaged by glaucoma, small blind spots may begin to develop, usually in the side – or peripheral – vision. The top photo on the next page shows how a scene would be viewed by a person with normal vision. The bottom image shows the same scene as viewed by a person with glaucoma. Many people don’t notice the blind spots until significant optic nerve damage has already occurred. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.
Another type of glaucoma, Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma, does produce noticeable symptoms. In angle-closure glaucoma, there is a rapid buildup of pressure in the eye (intra-ocular pressure, known as IOP), which may cause any of the following:
- blurred vision
- severe eye pain
- haloes (which may appear as rainbows) around lights
- nausea and vomiting
Angle-closure glaucoma is a rare, but serious, form of Glaucoma. If you have any of these symptoms, call your ophthalmologist immediately. Unless treated quickly, blindness can result.
Surgery For Glaucoma
For some people, surgery might be the best treatment for glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist may suggest surgery as a first treatment, or after trying medication to lower your IOP.
There are several different types of surgery for glaucoma. The kind of surgery you and your ophthalmologist decide is right for you depends on many factors, including the type and severity of your glaucoma, and other eye problems or health conditions.
Glaucoma surgery may be performed using a laser (a concentrated beam of light) or conventional surgical instruments.