What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a health problem where the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly builds up and does not drain properly. Instead, the fluid collects and causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the retina with the brain. This damage leads to vision loss.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of sixty (60). It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults.
There are several types of glaucoma, with open-angle glaucoma being the most common form.
What causes glaucoma ?
The cause of glaucoma generally is a failure of the eye to maintain an appropriate balance between the amount of internal (intraocular) fluid produced and the amount that drains away.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma. However, some people are at higher risk than others. The risk factors for glaucoma are:
• Race. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for African-Americans.
• Age. People ages sixty (60) and older are more at risk for developing glaucoma.
• Family history. People with a family history of glaucoma are more likely to develop the disease.
• High fluid pressure inside the eyes. People with a high fluid pressure inside the eyes are at an increased risk.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The signs and symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on the type and stage of your condition.
For Open-angle glaucoma, symptoms may include;
• Patchy blind spots in the side (peripheral) or central vision, frequently in both eyes
• Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
For Acute angle-closure glaucoma, symptoms are ;
• Severe headache
• Eye pain
• Nausea and vomiting
• Blurred vision
• Halos around lights
• Eye redness
How is glaucoma treated?
The damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Early treatment and regular checkups can help slow or prevent vision loss.
Treatment may include:
• Medicines. Some medicines cause the eye to make less fluid while others lower pressure by helping fluid drain from the eye.
• Surgery. The purpose of surgery is to create a new opening for fluid to leave the eye.
• Laser surgery. There are several types of surgeries using a laser that are used to treat glaucoma.
• Tube shunt. A surgical procedure in which a flexible plastic tube is placed in the eye to help drain fluid.
What are the complications of glaucoma?
Without treatment, glaucoma can cause permanent blindness.
1. John Hopkins. Glaucoma. Available at https://hopkinsmedicine.org
2. Mayo Clinic. Glaucoma. Available at https://mayoclinic.org
3. John B. Glaucoma : symptoms, treatment and prevention. Available at https://allaboutvision.com
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