The Battle Between Glaucoma And Vision

The eye works like a well-oiled machine to provide clear images to the brain for processing. To accomplish such a feat, the eye lacks blood vessels in certain areas to allow light to pass through. Instead, a transparent fluid called aqueous humor brings these components the nutrients needed to survive. Glaucoma uses this fluid to create a reign of terror.

Glaucoma is not your friend

An area known as the ciliary body creates aqueous humor, sending the fluid to serve the front of the eye. When aqueous humor finishes providing the front of the eye with food, openings called trabecular meshwork allow for drainage. Should this meshwork become restricted or blocked, the aqueous humor has nowhere to go.

I’m getting a little backed up

Unaware of the blockage, the ciliary body still produces nutrition-filled aqueous humor as usual. The backlog of fluid in the eye leads to a traffic jam of sorts, and the excess begins pushing outward. This in turn puts pressure on the nerves in the back of the eye that relay information to the brain. After prolonged tension, these nerves will become damaged and eventually die.

Glaucoma hungers for vision

These nerves, known collectively as the optic nerve, are the sole means of getting ocular images to the brain. Without this information highway, the brain can’t process what the eye sees. Although other diseases affect the optic nerve, glaucoma is the most common.

As nerve cells die, blind spots appear in vision. With glaucoma, this blindness starts eating away at the edges of sight. Over time, the loss of sight around the perimeter of vision moves inward, further shrinking the field of view. If left untreated, glaucoma will eventually consume central vision until nothing is left.

Is there a path to restored sight?

At this time, there is no way to turn back the clock on damage caused by glaucoma. Any damage caused by the condition is permanent. Scientists hope to find a way to restore nerve cells lost to the disease one day. For now, the only option to save nerve cells is through prevention.

The silent killer

Not to sound morbid, but most of the time glaucoma creeps in silently, without any discernible symptoms. Often, patients only notice the disease after glaucoma has already claimed some vision. At this point, the only hope is to prevent more loss of sight from happening.

Ophthalmologists to the rescue

To win the fight against glaucoma, regular visits to an ophthalmologist are essential. These eye doctors can measure eye pressure and catch glaucoma before any permanent damage occurs. Even if the signs of glaucoma are present, there are treatment options to keep things under wraps. For instance, eye drops are available to slow the production of aqueous humor or open drainage channels.