Glaucoma, as an advanced eye condition, can cause crucial damage to your eyesight – if left untreated, it can even lead to blindness. When fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, the pressure in the eye increases, which causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a preventable disease with early treatment.
There are two major types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Open-angle is the more common type of glaucoma, which happens gradually when the eye does not drain fluid as well as it should and increases pressure over time. Closed-angle is also known as an ‘acute attack’ and happens much more quickly, typically happening when the iris is very close to the drainage angle in the eye. When the drainage angle gets blocked, the eye pressure rises rapidly. While open-angle glaucoma is painless and initially causes no vision changes, closed-angle glaucoma causes several side effects, including sudden blurry vision, headaches, nausea, pain, or halos around lights.
The most effective way to prevent glaucoma is by getting comprehensive eye exams regularly. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, it is best to develop a treatment plan in place as soon as possible to help maintain and preserve your vision.
Glaucoma occurs when the intraocular pressure (IOP) becomes abnormally elevated, which in turn produces damaging pressure on the optic nerve. This is caused by the abnormally high production of the internal fluid of the eye (aqueous humor), the abnormally slow drainage of aqueous, or both. Symptoms of glaucoma can be undetected by the patient until it is advanced, when patients start to notice vision loss in the periphery of their visual field.
There are many different varieties of glaucoma; the most common one is called open angle glaucoma. Most are described as a painless, gradual vision loss that can span over years or decades, but some can be painful and cause irreversible vision loss over a much shorter period of time. There is no known cure for glaucoma, but new and better treatments have made it a manageable condition in which further vision loss can be arrested with early diagnosis.
How does glaucoma affect your vision over time? Click here.