What A Meshwork

Glaucoma is the term for a series of eye diseases affecting quality of vision. The condition generally stems from an increase in pressure inside the eye caused by excess fluid. That fluid normally drains through a series of channels called the trabecular meshwork but gets trapped in the eye instead. The pressure created pushes on the optic nerve, damaging vital information passageways to the brain.

These nerves have had enough

Damaged nerves can die over time, leading to blind spots in sight. Glaucoma typically starts at the edges of vision, shrinking the ability to see out of the corners of the eye. The condition then works inward until total blindness occurs. Any vision lost from the disease is permanent. Therefore, the best way to deal with glaucoma is to catch the ailment early on.

It’s form-fitting

Glaucoma can appear in many forms, but a few types of the condition are most prevalent. Open-angle glaucoma is by far the most common and is usually a partial block of the trabecular meshwork. Angle-closure glaucoma is a complete closure of drainage passageways and often happens suddenly. Normal-tension glaucoma can damage the optic nerve even though eye pressure remains in a safe range.

Glaucoma is risky business

Understanding the risk factors for glaucoma is one of the best ways to combat the disease. Age plays a major role, with patients over 55 most likely to get the ailment. Individuals of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent are also more susceptible. Other factors include a family history of glaucoma, thin corneas, extreme near or farsightedness, or a previous eye injury. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also play a role.

An asymptomatic situation

Open-angle and normal-tension glaucoma rarely have symptoms in the early stages, making these diseases difficult to detect. Patients may not be aware that these forms of glaucoma are present until vision starts to decay. Angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, is often accompanied by severe headaches, eye pain, and nausea.

Can someone tell me what’s going on?

Glaucoma deserves immediate attention to prevent the disease from causing blindness. This poses a problem when most forms of the disease cause damage without symptoms. As a result, routine visits to an eye healthcare provider are an essential step in retaining clear sight. Depending on a patient’s age, these visits should occur once every 1 to 5 years.

You complete me

During a complete eye exam, these specialists can perform a glaucoma screening on both eyes. The screening measures eye pressure, checks the eye’s drainage angle, and investigates the optic nerve for damage. Tests may also check peripheral (side) vision and corneal thickness for areas of concern.

No tricks, just treatment

All hope is not lost if the ophthalmologist detects signs of glaucoma in one or both eyes. Glaucoma treatments typically start with eye drops to reduce pressure, especially when caught early on. More severe cases may require laser or traditional surgery to reopen blocked passageways or create new channels. Remember that no treatment plan can take place without first seeing the eye doctor.