A Group Called Glaucoma

The term glaucoma encompasses a group of diseases that affect sight in the eye. Starting along the edge of vision, glaucoma slowly erodes the ability to see from the outside in. As the condition worsens, blindness can appear throughout the entire eye. Any vision lost to glaucoma cannot be regained.

More liquid, please

In the eye, a clear fluid known as aqueous humor brings necessary nutrients to the lens and cornea. After dropping off the cargo, the aqueous humor exits the eye through a series of passageways called the trabecular meshwork. Should these passageways become blocked, the fluid begins to collect in the eye. New aqueous humor is still produced, leading to too much liquid with nowhere to go.

As the eye fills with fluid, the aqueous humor pushes outward on the eye. This pressure can lead to damage or the death of the nerve cells that send images to the brain. These dead nerve cells create blind spots in vision that will never return.

The majority of people are open

Most of the time, the trabecular meshwork doesn’t get completely blocked. This leads to what ophthalmologists call open-angle glaucoma since the drainage angle is not entirely closed off. This disease can progress very slowly and often take years to become apparent.

I don’t see any symptoms

Because open-angle glaucoma comes on so slowly, the disease is often referred to as the silent thief of vision. In many cases, there are no symptoms that take place prior to vision loss in the eye. As sight starts to diminish, images gradually disappear from the outside edges first. Even this vision loss can go unnoticed at first until a significant amount is gone.

Most times, the first symptom a patient will notice is a permanent loss of vision. While extremely rare in open-angle glaucoma cases, individuals can experience a bulging cornea, eye redness, or nausea as pressures increase inside the eye.

Risky business

While glaucoma can happen to anyone, there are a few risk factors that can make the disease more likely to occur.

  • Adults more than 40 years old
  • Individuals with a family history of glaucoma
  • Ethnicity (African American or Hispanic)
  • Nearsightedness
  • Thin cornea
  • High blood pressure

Most of these factors are simply representations of individuals that can’t be changed. As a result, the best course of action against glaucoma is to prevent the disease before any damage occurs.

Stop in the name of vision!

The most pertinent way to discover open-angle glaucoma before issues arise is through regular visits with an eye doctor. In the clinic, patients are screened for the disease through a series of tests. The healthcare specialist can measure eye pressure, check the eye’s drainage angle, and look for areas of vision loss. Even if glaucoma is detected, the physician can prescribe eye drops that often return things to normal.