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Understanding Glaucoma

Information on the Common Eye Condition: Glaucoma
Glaucoma Diagram

When there is a buildup of excess fluid pressure inside a person’s eye, the common eye condition that develops is known as glaucoma, which is typically an inherited situation that appears later in a person’s life. This pressure increase is referred to as intraocular pressure.

Intraocular pressure has the ability to cause damage to the optic nerve (a component of the eye that transmits images to a person’s brain). With consistent and continuing high eye pressure on the nerve, the condition of glaucoma can eventually lead to a loss of vision.

And if left untreated, then glaucoma can eventually lead to permanent, total blindness in the span of just a few years.

Often, there are no early symptoms associated with glaucoma — rarely does a person feel pain from an increased amount of pressure due to the increased fluid in the eye. Because of this, regular yearly eye examinations from a licensed optometrist are recommended. This allows proper diagnosis to occur in a timely manner, and for treatment to be administered early, before any significant loss of vision takes place.


More Information to Consider With Glaucoma

  • As in the case of presbyopia, chances of glaucoma occurring in patients increases over the age of forty; this tends to occur in patients who also have a history of glaucoma in other members of their family.
  • The fluid pressure buildup occurs in the area between the cornea and the iris (the anterior chamber of the eye). The fluid itself is referred to as “aqueous humor.”
  • The direct cause of glaucoma is not known, but doctors do know that it is mostly inherited, passed down from one’s parents.
  • Other less frequent causes of the condition include chemical / blunt injuries to the eye, blockage of blood vessels in the eye, or an eye infection of serious degree.
  • Glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of blindness as it occurs in the United States.
  • Besides a family history, other risk factors may be: having thinner than normal corneas, use of medications that lead to an increased amount of pressure in the eyes, or cases of chronic eye inflammation.
  • Other theories of the cause behind glaucoma include an inadequate supply of blood to the optic nerve.


Risk Factors Commonly Associated With Glaucoma

Here are a few things to consider when looking to understand a person’s chances of developing glaucoma:

  • Age – Anyone over the age of 60 has an increased risk (and African Americans specifically, over the age of 40)
  • Family history of the condition – If someone in your family has glaucoma, chances are increased for you to develop the condition.
  • Prior medical conditions – Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of developing glaucoma. Heart disease, and high blood pressure have been associated with glaucoma as well.
  • Eye injuries and or trauma – If you’ve ever been hit in the eye, an increase in eye pressure can result, leading to internal damage.
  • Corticosteroid use – Use of corticosteroids for extended periods of time may increase the risk of some individuals getting secondary glaucoma.



The Symptoms of Glaucoma: Are There Any?

Typically, there are few symptoms associated with glaucoma, and often there are none at all. Some patients show a loss of side vision (vision in your periphery), but this is often undetected until glaucoma has progressed quite far. In reality, having a complete eye examination by a trained optometrist is the best way to diagnose glaucoma at a treatable stage.

If for any reason you have experienced the following symptoms, you should immediately seek professional medical care: appearance of “halos” around lights, eye pain, nausea, redness of the eyes, loss of vision, a hazy eye, or tunnel vision.


[Diagram Via: Saeye]

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