Glaucoma is a common eye disease that can cause blindness. It occurs when pressure inside the eye increases and damages the optic nerve. Vision that is lost from glaucoma can never be restored. But when glaucoma is caught early, sight can be saved.
Having an eye exam is the only way to determine if you have glaucoma. During the exam, your eye doctor measures the pressure inside your eye with a tonometer which blows a puff of air onto your eye. Your doctor will also check the health of the optic nerve and the drainage angle of your eye. Your field of vision may also be tested.
RISKS of GLAUCOMA
Glaucoma is more common in people who are:
(2) are African Americans, Asians or Native Americans
(3) have a family history of glaucoma
(4) have diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure
(5) are long term users of steroids or cortisone
Treatment is aimed at reducing pressure inside the eye. Eye drops or pills may be prescribed alone or in combination. Medications must be continued for life. Surgery may also be suggested.
HOW THE EYE SEES
Light enters the eye through the clear cornea. The colored part of the eye, the iris, controls the amount of light that enters through the pupil. The lens then focuses the light onto the retina, the inside lining at the back of the eye. Signals from the retina travel through the optic nerve to the brain turning into images you see.
NORMAL EYE PRESSURE
Fluid flows into the eye and drains at a spongy outlet where the cornea and iris meet. This area is called the drainage angle. When the outlet is open and the drainage angle normal, fluid drains normally and eye pressure is healthy.
HIGH EYE PRESSURE
Pressure rises when the drainage angle is narrowed. As the pressure increases, nerve fibers in the optic nerve are killed leading to a vision loss. Side vision is often affected first.
IF YOU HAVE LASER TREATMENT OR EYE SURGERY
When medication does not reduce pressure in the eye laser treatment or eye surgery may be suggested.