What’s The Harm In Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that results from an increase in pressure inside the eye. This heightened pressure is typically caused by a buildup of aqueous humor, a clear fluid that gives the eye shape. Aqueous humor normally drains through channels in the front of the eye. When those channels become obstructed, glaucoma starts to form. The disease harms the optic nerve, a major communication point between the eye and the brain. Lightning-fast signals via the optic nerve tell the brain what the eye sees. Any damage to the optic nerve can impair those signals.
Glaucoma isn’t always a pain
There are two main forms of glaucoma, open-angle and closed-angle. Closed-angle glaucoma results from an abrupt blockage of the eye’s drainage canals. This form of glaucoma often leads to immediate, severe discomfort that would likely cause an individual to seek medical attention. Open-angle glaucoma, on the other hand, takes a much more gradual approach. Pressure can build gradually over the course of months or years, leading to slow but significant vision loss.
Can I get that vision back?
By slowly and unnoticeably putting pressure on the optic nerve, glaucoma is a terrible disease. Over time, the built-up pressure causes the optic nerve to deteriorate from the outside in. This loss of peripheral vision continues to work toward the center of the eye until no sight is left. Any vision loss from damage due to glaucoma is permanent and currently cannot be regained. Regular visits to an eye doctor are essential to check for glaucoma and other eye diseases.
Reverse the cause
While damage to the optic nerve is permanent, an ophthalmologist can treat the underlying causes of glaucoma. Reducing the amount of pressure inside the eye will keep tension off the optic nerve. Getting pressure back down to a normal level can preserve any vision the eye still has. An eye surgeon will typically use one of two methods to bring the pressure down.
A majority of glaucoma treatments start with the regular administration of eye drops. These drops work to either help open up passageways for fluid to drain better or limit the amount of fluid the eye makes. In either case, less liquid in the eye should lead to lower pressure.
If drops aren’t doing the trick, a physician may look to surgery to reduce the pressure in the eye. One common procedure is called a trabeculectomy, where a new pathway for fluid to drain is made in the eye. Another approach is to place a microscopic tube into the white of the eye, allowing fluid to drain more easily.