What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that is a leading cause of blindness for individuals over the age of 60.
It causes damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye. This occurs when fluid known as aqueous humor builds up in the front of the eye due to insufficient drainage.
What causes glaucoma?
Glaucoma occurs when the trabecular meshwork becomes clogged or the drainage angle closes, thereby preventing drainage of the aqueous humor. This causes intraocular eye pressure (IOP) to increase, which can lead to damage to the optic nerve. This damage can cause permanent vision loss.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
Age is a leading risk factor with people over 60 being at increased risk for developing glaucoma. Family history of glaucoma and other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease increases risk. Furthermore, racial background is a factor with individuals of African American, Asian, and Hispanic heritage being more likely to develop glaucoma.
SYMPTOMS AND DETECTION
What are the symptoms of glaucoma ?
Often, glaucoma may progress with little to no symptoms. Some warning signs to look out for are blind spots in the peripheral or central vision, halos around lights, eye pain, or blurred vision. Should you experience any of these symptoms, consult your eye care provider for consultation.
How is a glaucoma detected ?
Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to detect glaucoma. This includes tonometry to measure IOP for which your numbing eye drops may be applied to your eyes. The doctor will also examine your drainage angle and optic nerve for any abnormalities, and analyze your peripheral vision. Different machines and tests may help with this such as a visual field test, optical coherence tomography (OCT), or optic nerve photo. Since glaucoma often shows little to no symptoms, early detection is a must to prevent permanent vision loss.
How glaucoma treated ?
Eye drops may be prescribed to help manage IOP. These medications may act by decreasing the amount of aqueous humor production or aiding in fluid outflow through the drainage angle. Also, surgical treatments such as selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) allow for better fluid outflow and help manage IOP and potential further damage. Consult with your doctor regarding the best treatment for you.