Glaucoma is a serious condition that damages your optic nerve. Untreated glaucoma can result in permanent loss of vision. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life. It is also often asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease. If you're over the age of 40 and have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma, you should have an eye exam every year.
Although the disease is usually associated with an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye, the exact cause is not known.
The signs or symptoms can vary depending on the type of glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma often develops slowly and painlessly. It can gradually effect one's vision with no warning signs. The first indication that a person has glaucoma may occur after some vision has been lost.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma results from a sudden blockage of drainage channels in the eye, causing a rapid buildup of pressure. A patient with acute angle-closure glaucoma would have blurred vision, the appearance of halos around lights, as well as pain and redness in the eye.
Glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Glaucoma is a progressive disease, therefore a change in the appearance of the optic nerve, a loss of nerve tissue, or a loss of vision can confirm the diagnosis. Some optic nerves may resemble nerves with glaucoma, but the patients may have no other risk factors or signs of glaucoma. That is why is very important to have regular eye examinations with an optometrist to monitor any changes in your optic nerve and nerve tissue.
Glaucoma treatment is focussed on reducing pressure in the eye. Use of prescription eye drops are the most common and often the first treatment.
Some cases may require systemic medications, laser treatment, or other surgery.
Currently there is no cure for glaucoma, early diagnosis and continuing treatment can slow down the degeneration and preserve eyesight.