Everyone knows what glaucoma is. – That is FALSE – A Prevent Blindness America Survey found that 50% had heard of glaucoma, but weren’t sure what it was. Another 30% of people had never even heard of glaucoma. The ones that had heard of glaucoma thought it was easily cured and did not lead to blindness. In fact, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. And it is often called the ‘silent thief of sight’ because vision loss can occur gradually, without pain and without symptoms. Fortunately, if glaucoma is detected early and properly treated, most vision loss is preventable.
The two most common types of glaucoma are open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma, sometimes referred to as narrow 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.
Narrow angle glaucoma results from a sudden, complete blockage of fluid drainage from the angle of the eye, causing a rapid and painful rise in pressure. It generally occurs in people over 40 and may cause vision loss rapidly if no treatment is given. Patients may experience severe eye pain accompanied by nausea, redness, swelling of the eye, loss of peripheral vision as well as blurred vision and halos. These symptoms usually last until the eye pressure is lowered. It is important to reduce the pressure quickly because permanent vision loss can occur if the pressure is not reduced in a timely manner.
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If you have glaucoma and would like to be evaluated by our Fellowship Trained Glaucoma Specialist, Robert Friedman, MD, or one of our board certified eye physicians, please call toll free 1-866-865-2020 or contact The Eye Associates.