Glaucoma Gets On Your Nerves

Glaucoma belongs to a group of eye diseases that can lead to blindness through damage to the optic nerve. This nerve sends visual cues to the brain, painting a picture of everything the eye currently sees. When not functioning properly, the optic nerve can leave blind spots in vision.

The pressure is rising

Every eye has a fluid called aqueous humor that distributes nutrition and helps the eye maintain a spherical shape. Although designed to exit the eye at regular intervals, blocked drainage channels can lead to excess fluid buildup. This event can cause a spike in ocular pressure that harms or destroys optic nerve cells.

No warning signs

In most cases, patients are unaware of the onset of glaucoma in one or both eyes. There are no symptoms to speak of at first, and damage occurs silently in the background. Only when optic nerve cells die do individuals notice blind spots or a loss of side vision. If left unchecked, the ailment can completely consume all vision in the eye.

Fight back against glaucoma

At this point in time, there is no way to reverse the damage caused by glaucoma. Any loss of sight due to the disease is permanent and, in many patients, is the first indication of having glaucoma. Regular visits with an eye doctor offer the best chance of catching the condition early and preventing such problems.

Should an ophthalmologist detect some form of glaucoma, a treatment plan will be put in place to stop the disease from progressing further. Depending on severity, the first line of defense is eye drops to open restricted pathways or slow aqueous humor production. Patients with more severe cases may require laser treatment or surgery to reopen blocked drainage channels.

Glaucoma don’t keep me down

Patients catching glaucoma early on may be able to circumvent damage to the optic nerve altogether. In other cases, blindness from glaucoma typically begins on the sides of vision before working inward. Eye doctors can slow or stop the disease from worsening in hopes that patients can continue normal activities.

Even with treatment, 15% to 20% of patients still become blind in at least one eye over time. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is aware that significantly reduced vision can make work difficult. Anyone experiencing severe vision loss from glaucoma can qualify for disability benefits.

Tests you don’t want to pass

To meet the SSA’s requirements for disability, one of the following conditions must be met:

Central visual acuity with glasses or contacts must be 20/200 or less in the better eye. This represents how clearly a person can see straight ahead. This is the standard for legal blindness, and both eyes must be at this level or worse.

While focusing on a fixed point, a patient cannot see more than 20 degrees to the left or the right. Such a test deciphers how limited peripheral vision is and the potential repercussions in the workplace.

Visual efficiency in the better eye must be 20% or less while wearing glasses or contacts. This check looks at both central visual acuity and peripheral vision together.

An ophthalmologist is your best friend

In the ideal scenario, glaucoma never reaches the point where blindness begins to set in. 50% of people with the condition aren’t even aware damage is taking place. The only hope most patients have of accomplishing this is through the help of a physician.