What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a relatively common ocular condition estimated to affect around three million Americans. However, the subtleness of the early symptoms of glaucoma mean that as many as 50% of those suffering from the condition do not realize that they are affected.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), glaucoma is the second biggest cause of blindness in the world today. Although there is no treatment that can reverse any vision loss as a result of glaucoma, early identification and preventative treatment can stop your eyesight from deteriorating any further.
What is glaucoma?
Our eye is a complex structure. One of the main components is an aqueous fluid, which naturally drains through an intricate network. However, if for some reason the fluid in the eye cannot drain as it should, it causes an increase of pressure inside the eye, which in turn puts pressure on the optic nerve, causing damage and vision loss.
Symptoms of glaucoma
By the time that glaucoma is diagnosed, it has often progressed beyond the earliest stages. This is because with the most common type of glaucoma – known as open-angle glaucoma – there are no symptoms present to begin with, and it is often only noticed during an examination by a qualified and experienced eye doctor.
In open-angle glaucoma, peripheral vision tends to deteriorate first, and this will continue to worsen until treatment is sought. Very occasionally, a specific type of glaucoma can develop extremely quickly, and this is normally characterized by symptoms including:
- Blurred vision
- Intense eye pain
- Tenderness around the eyes
- Seeing rings around lights
- Eyes that seem red
Most patients tend to develop symptoms across both eyes, although in many cases they may be more severe in one eye.
Am I at risk of developing glaucoma?
Unfortunately, everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma regardless of their age or gender. However, there are certain groups of people who seem to have a higher chance of suffering from glaucoma. These include:
Older people. Glaucoma risk increases with age, and around one in ten people over the age of 75 suffer from open-angle glaucoma.
People with a family history of the condition. You are considerably more likely to develop the condition if you have a parent or sibling with glaucoma.
People who are of African, Asian or Caribbean origin.
A More In-Depth Look at Glaucoma
Inside the eye are two cavities. The larger cavity, in the back of the eye, is filled with a jelly called the vitreous. The smaller cavity, in the front of the eye, is called the anterior chamber and is filled with a fluid called the “aqueous”. The aqueous is constantly being produced by a structure called the “ciliary body”.
The aqueous flows through the pupil to the “angle” in the corner of the eye, and then is drained from the eye through a structure called the “trabecular meshwork”. From the trabecular meshwork, it travels to the veins in the eye. (The aqueous does not drain to the outside of the eye.)
The balance between the production of the aqueous, and its exit from the eye, is what gives the eye its pressure. Too much fluid production, or not enough fluid drainage will increase the pressure inside the eye causing “open angle glaucoma”. If the fluid produced in the ciliary body cannot get through the pupil to the trabecular meshwork, again, the pressure will increase causing “narrow angle glaucoma”
The future for patients with glaucoma
If you have recently been diagnosed with glaucoma, one of your first questions will probably be about how the condition will affect your eyesight in the future.
The severity of glaucoma varies from patient to patient, depending on the type of glaucoma, as well as other conditions. However, as a general rule, although you may experience some vision loss from glaucoma, with immediate treatment you will be able to maintain your eye health and vision.
If you have further questions about glaucoma, our experienced and knowledgeable team will be happy to assist you. Call Laser Vision of Fort Collins today at 970-999-1700.
Laser Vision of Fort Collins
Fax : 970-797-1955