What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that is usually but not always related to elevated intraocular pressure. The two most common types of glaucoma are primary open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma, also known as narrow angle glaucoma. Other subtypes of glaucoma include traumatic, pseudoexfoliation, pigmentary, neovascular and normal-pressure glaucoma where optic nerve damage develops despite low or normal intraocular pressures.
Glaucoma is often called the ‘silent thief of sight’ because the damage to vision is painless, gradual and most often without symptoms. It can slowly steal your eyesight without your even realizing that anything is wrong. Glaucoma affects an estimated 3 million Americans, and is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Fortunately, if glaucoma is detected early and properly treated, most vision loss is preventable.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma
Our eyes have a constant flow of fluid that fills the front chamber of the eye and then drains into the bloodstream. It drains through the ‘angle’ of the eye which is located between the cornea and iris. In primary open angle glaucoma, this drainage system does not function properly, causing a slow buildup of fluid pressure. When this happens, optic nerve damage may occur. As the optic nerve deteriorates, there is a loss of peripheral vision, most times without notice because of the gradual nature in which the deterioration progresses. Often it is only after irreparable vision loss has occurred that a person becomes aware they even have this disease.
Check out this video about open angle glaucoma.