What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that damages your eye's optic nerve. It gets worse over time. It's often linked to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. Glaucoma tends to run in families. You usually don’t get it until later in life. The increased pressure in your eye, called intraocular pressure, can damage your optic nerve, which sends images to your brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years.
Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain. Visit your eye doctor regularly so they can diagnose and treat glaucoma before you have long-term vision loss. If you lose vision, it can’t be restored. But lowering eye pressure can help you keep your vision stable. Most people with glaucoma who follow their treatment plan and have regular eye examination are able to keep their vision.
The fluid inside your eye, called aqueous humor, usually flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel gets blocked, or the eye is producing too much fluid, the liquid builds up. Sometimes, experts don’t know what causes this blockage. But it can be inherited, meaning it’s passed from parents to children.
Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to your eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside your eye, and inflammatory conditions. It’s rare, but eye surgery to correct another condition can sometimes bring it on. It usually affects both eyes, but it may be worse in one than the other.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
It mostly affects adults over 40, but young adults, children, and even infants can have it. African American people tend to get it more often when they're younger and with more vision loss.
You’re more likely to get it if you:
Most people with open-angle glaucoma don’t have symptoms. If symptoms do develop, it’s usually late in the disease. That’s why glaucoma is often called the sneak thief of vision. The main sign is usually a loss of side, or peripheral, vision. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma usually come on faster and are more obvious.
Damage can happen quickly. If you have any of these symptoms, get medical care right away:
Glaucoma tests are painless and don’t take long. Your eye doctor will test your vision. They’ll use drops to widen (dilate) your pupils and examine your eyes. They’ll check your optic nerve for signs of glaucoma. They may take photographs so they can spot changes on your next visit.
They’ll do a test called tonometry to check your eye pressure. They may also do a visual field test to see if you've lost peripheral vision. If your doctor suspects glaucoma, they may order special imaging tests of your optic nerve.
Your doctor may use prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser surgery, or microsurgery to lower pressure in your eye.
Eye Drops:- These either lower the creation of fluid in your eye or increases its flow out, lowering eye pressure. Side effects can include allergies, redness, stinging, blurred vision, and irritated eyes. Some glaucoma drugs may affect your heart and lungs. Because of potential drug interactions, be sure to tell your doctor about any other medical problems you have or other medications you take. Also, let them know if it’s hard for you to follow a regimen involving two or three different eye drops or if they have side effects. They may be able to change your treatment.
Oral Medication:- Your doctor might also prescribe medication for you to take by mouth, such as a beta-blocker or a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. These drugs can improve drainage or slow the creation of fluid in your eye.
Laser Surgery:- This procedure can slightly raise the flow of fluid from your eye if you have open-angle glaucoma. It can stop fluid blockage if you have angle-closure glaucoma.
You can’t prevent glaucoma. But if you find it early, you can lower your risk of eye damage.
These steps may help protect your vision: