Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Glaucoma is an eye disease that may cause loss
of vision. It occurs as a result of a buildup of fluid in the eyeball. Imagine
that the inside of your eye is like a sink, with the faucet always running and
the drain always open. Like water in the sink, the fluid in your eye moves in
and out. The fluid nourishes your eye and keeps it healthy. After the fluid
circulates, it empties through a drain in the front of your eye. In people with
glaucoma, the drain in the eye is blocked and the fluid can't run out of the
eyeball. Instead, the fluid builds up and causes increased pressure in the eye.
How does increased pressure damage
The increased pressure in the eye destroys the
nerve cells in your eye, causing you to lose your vision. At first, you may have
blind spots only in your peripheral, or side, vision. If your glaucoma isn't
treated, your central vision will also be affected. When glaucoma causes vision
loss, the loss is permanent. Nothing can restore dead nerve cells.
What are the symptoms of
Most people with glaucoma don't have any
symptoms of the disease. You might not realize that you're losing vision until
it's too late. Half of all people with loss of vision caused by glaucoma are not
aware they have the disease. By the time they notice loss of vision, the eye
damage is severe.
Rarely, an individual will have an acute attack
of glaucoma. In these cases, the eye becomes red and extremely painful. Also,
nausea, vomiting and blurred vision may occur.
Risk factors for glaucoma include older age,
black race, family history of glaucoma, high pressure in the eyes, diabetes,
hypertension and near-sightedness.
How do I know if I have
You won't know you have glaucoma until you
notice vision loss. Since glaucoma causes no symptoms other than vision loss, it
is important that you have a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist. An
ophthalmologist is a doctor who is trained to provide care for the eyes,
including the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist can
measure your eye pressure, examine your optic nerve and evaluate your central
and peripheral vision. Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma can prevent
damage to the eye's nerve cells and prevent vision loss.
How often should I have an eye
It is generally recommended that you have a
complete eye exam by age 39. After that, eye exams should be done every 2 to 4
years. After age 64, they should be done every 1 to 2 years.
What is the treatment for
Glaucoma can be treated with eyedrops, pills,
laser surgery, eye surgery or a combination of methods. The purpose of treatment
is to lower the pressure in the eye so that further nerve damage and vision loss