What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when fluid pressure inside the eye progressively increases. This pressure increase can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss or blindness in severe cases. As our bodies age, the normal flow of fluid through the eye may become impeded as the eye’s drainage system may not function effectively. As a result, an increase in pressure is observed and this in effect may lead to damage of the optic nerve.
What causes glaucoma?
Even today, the cause of glaucoma is unknown in many cases. Glaucoma can occur in seemingly normal eyes without any symptoms. There does not seem to be any relationship between the development of glaucoma and the lifestyle of an individual. For example, there seems to be no association between the consumption of certain foods and the occurrence of glaucoma. In addition, there seems to be no direct relationship between medical conditions such as high blood pressure and glaucoma. In special cases, glaucoma can occur indirectly as a result of other conditions such as eye tumors, inflammations, or eye trauma.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
Virtually anyone can develop glaucoma. However, those who are most susceptible to glaucoma include:
- People with a family history of glaucoma
- The elderly (60 years or older)
- African Americans 40 years or older
- People with diabetes
- People with a history of eye trauma
- Hispanics 60 years or older
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma should only be diagnosed by a qualified professional. Because glaucoma has little or no symptoms, it is important for individuals to be regularly checked for glaucoma to prevent serious vision loss.Your ophthalmologist would check the pressure of your eyes, test your eyes’ refractive capabilities, examine peripheral vision, check your retinas.
Does an increase in eye pressure mean that I have glaucoma?
Increased pressure does not always mean that an individual has glaucoma. However, it may be an indication that the individual is at risk of developing glaucoma. An individual is diagnosed as having glaucoma only if the optic nerve is damaged. Regardless, a pressure increase should prompt the individual to seek professional care to monitor the pressure in the eye.
Will I develop glaucoma if I have increased eye pressure?
Not every individual with increased eye pressure will develop glaucoma. It varies person to person. Some people are able to tolerate higher levels of pressure than others.
Is glaucoma life-threatening?
Glaucoma is not life-threatening. The disease affects only vision.
Is there a cure for glaucoma?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma.
Are there ways to manage glaucoma? What are some of the treatments available?
Yes. With early detection, adequate treatment, and adherence to a medical regimen, people can live normally even with glaucoma. Most patients with glaucoma will be prescribed medications to control eye pressure.
When medications alone are not enough, an ophthalmologist will recommend surgery. There are several treatments available to those who require surgery. For laser trabeculoplasty, a high-energy light beam is applied to the eye to improve fluid drainage from the eye and lower pressure. For trabeculectomies, a new opening is made for the fluid to exit the eye. A small piece of tissue is removed to create a new channel for fluid drainage and lower pressure. Iridotomies are used to treat angle-closure glaucoma. The procedure involves using a laser to create a hole in the iris to improve the flow of fluid to the drainage system. These procedures are usually successful in maintaining eye pressure and protecting the eye from further vision loss.
Is there a way to restore my vision loss from glaucoma?
Unfortunately, there is no way to restore vision lost from glaucoma. It is therefore very important for individuals to be regularly checked by an eye care professional if already diagnosed with glaucoma or at risk for developing it.
Is there anything I can do to prevent the disease from occurring?
The causes of the disease have not yet been elucidated, therefore it is not clear as to how individuals can prevent the disease from occurring. However, early detection and adequate treatment can prevent the disease from causing major vision loss when it does occur.