Glaucoma And All Its Tension

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of diseases that can wreak havoc on the eye. The disease occurs when fluid that brings nutrients to the front of the eye can’t drain as intended. This creates an elevated internal pressure that places tension on the nerve cluster sending images to the brain. Over time, the high intraocular pressure can start to kill those nerve cells.

Who are you calling a degenerate?

On the other hand, Macular degeneration affects the macula, the central part of the back of the eye. The back of the eye, known as the retina, is where light gathers to send signals to the brain. In most cases of macular degeneration, fatty deposits called drusen appear on the macula. As these drusen spread, the macular cells underneath get thinner and weaker. If the disease worsens, cells in the macula can die.

How bad can it really be?

Both diseases are severe but attack the eye in different ways. If left unchecked, glaucoma damage to the eye’s nerve bundle begins to erode peripheral (side) vision. Untreated macular degeneration destroys the cells the eye uses for central vision. This leaves a black hole in the part of the vision where these cells once were. Damage from both diseases is irreversible and can eventually lead to total blindness.

Risky business

While each has unique risk factors, glaucoma and macular degeneration do have some in common. There are a few overt risk factors that can cause one or both of these conditions:

  • People over 55 years of age
  • Smoking
  • Family history of disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

To make matters worse, these diseases can exist in the same eye at the same time. Glaucoma can be moving in from the outside while macular degeneration works from the center out.

Do these diseases share common ground?

Although macular degeneration and glaucoma are leading sources of blindness today, scientists are still discovering the cause of each. The two diseases do not actively affect each other but may share more than risk factors. Research from a few years back indicates that specific genes may be responsible for both diseases. Time will tell if these genes will help crack the code to unlock more preventative measures for these conditions.

Catch them while you can

Be sure to stay ahead of glaucoma and macular degeneration by seeing an eye specialist regularly. Both diseases are typically asymptomatic until blurry vision or blindness start to set in. The only way to prevent permanent vision loss is to have an ophthalmologist discover these diseases early on.