What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause progressive and irreversible damage to the optic nerve. It is known as the “silent thief of sight” because symptoms most often don’t occur until damage is done. Fortunately, glaucoma is highly treatable if detected early.
The disease occurs when there is an overproduction of fluid or when the drainage system in the eye becomes blocked, causing fluid pressure to increase. The high pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss. Why the fluid system in the eye stops functioning properly is not completely understood. However, researchers continue to work toward a better understanding.
The key to preventing serious vision loss or blindness from glaucoma is having an annual, dilated eye examination. Schedule an annual eye exam with Inland Eye Specialists to have our ophthalmologists assess your vision and recommend next steps.
What Are My Treatment Options?
The effects of glaucoma are permanent, but with early treatment, we can minimize the loss of vision. In some patients, damage occurs so slowly that treatment may not be necessary. However, most patients require some form of treatment, such as eye drops.
At Inland Eye Specialists, we also offer iStent® by Glaukos, an FDA-approved implant that’s placed in the eye to regulate intraocular pressure and ensure it doesn’t get too high.
Your best defense is to have regular eye exams and glaucoma screening tests.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is very common. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. In fact, as many as 6 million individuals are blind in both eyes from this disease. As many as half of all individuals with glaucoma, however, may not know that they have the disease because there are no noticeable symptoms initially.
Am I at risk of getting glaucoma?
Knowing the risk factors for the disease and being screened for it will give you a head start on detecting and treating glaucoma. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma. However, certain groups face a higher risk:
- Hispanic Americans in older age groups
- Patients who have experienced an eye injury
- Anyone over the age of 60
- Diabetics or those with high blood pressure
- Those with a family history of glaucoma
- Individuals who use steroids users
- People with high myopia (severe near-sightedness)
Your best defense against glaucoma is to have regular eye exams and a glaucoma screening test.
What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?
Open angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, and it has no initial symptoms. It isn’t even evident until the optic nerve becomes damaged and peripheral (side) vision is lost.
Acute closed-angle glaucoma happens more suddenly when blockage occurs in the normal flow of eye fluid between the iris and the lens. This constitutes a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to prevent blindness. Acute closed-angle glaucoma symptoms include:
- Severe pain
- Blurred vision
- Seeing a rainbow halo around lights
Another type of glaucoma is called chronic closed-angle glaucoma. It is similar to open-angle glaucoma in that, though it progresses more slowly, it can damage the optic nerve without prior symptoms.