Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve . The optic nerve, which carries information from the eye to the brain, is in the back of the eye. When the nerve is damaged, you can lose your vision. Your risk for glaucoma rises after age 40. Race is also a factor. Blacks are more likely than whites to get the disease. You are also at if a close family member has had glaucoma
At first, people with glaucoma lose side (peripheral) vision. But if the disease is not treated, vision loss may get worse. This can lead to total blindness over time.
There are three types of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form in the United States. In this type of glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged gradually and painlessly. This slowly leads to loss of eyesight. One eye may be affected more than the other. Sometimes a significant amount of eyesight may be lost before you notice it.
Closed-angle glaucoma is less common. About 10% of all glaucoma cases in the United States are closed-angle. In this type of glaucoma, the colored part of the eye (iris) and the lens block movement of fluid between the chambers of your eye. This causes pressure to build up and the iris to press on the drainage system of the eye. A related type is sudden (acute) closed-angle glaucoma. It is often an emergency. If you get this acute form, you will need medical care right away to prevent permanent damage to your eye.
Congenital glaucoma is a rare form of glaucoma that some infants have at birth. Some children and young adults can also get a type of the disease.
Damage to the optic nerve is often caused by increased pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure). This can happen when extra fluid builds up in the eye, such as when the eye makes too much fluid or does not drain well. But some glaucoma patients have normal eye pressure readings. these cases are tougher to diagnose and treat.
You can get glaucoma after an eye injury, after eye surgery, or because of an eye tumor. Some medicines (corticosteroids) that are used to treat other diseases may cause glaucoma.
Finding and treating glaucoma early is important to prevent blindness. If you are at high risk for the disease, be sure to have regular eye examinations. Glaucoma is usually treated with medicine such as eyedrops. Be sure to follow a daily schedule for your eyedrops so that they work the way they should. You will likely need to take medicine for the rest of your life. You may also need laser treatment or surgery.
Treatment can’t bring back vision that has been lost, but it can keep your vision from getting worse. Treatment aims to stop more damage to the optic nerve by lowering the pressure in the eyes.
Learning that you have glaucoma can be hard, since much of your vision may be gone by the time it is detected. With counseling and training, you can find ways to keep your quality of life. You can use vision aids, such as large-print items and special video systems, to help you cope with reduced eyesight. Dr. McGrew does provide these aids. Make an appointment to discuss your options.
Contact our office if you notice blind spots in your vision or if over time you are having more trouble seeing. It’s also a good idea to be checked for the disease if you have a family history of open-angle glaucoma, are age 40 or older, have diabetes, or have other risk factors for glaucoma.