Our vision is important to our everyday life and, unfortunately, it’s something that’s very hard to regain once lost. That’s why it is essential to recognize and treat eye disorders early on, before irreversible damage occurs. Glaucoma is an eye disorder that affects about 2.2 million people in the United States. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this number is expected to increase to 3.3 million by 2020. But because few know how to recognize it, about half of those who have it do not even know. Here are some of the basic facts about glaucoma to help you recognize it in yourself or a loved one:
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. It is most often associated with a high level of pressure within the eye, although that is not always the case. In your eye, a clear fluid called aqueous humor circulates in the front of your eye. In a healthy eye, the same amount of aqueous humor would be formed in the eye as the amount that flows out through the drainage angle. Glaucoma results when it does not drain properly and the higher level of liquid results in a buildup of pressure that can damage the eye.
Types of Glaucoma
There are many types of glaucoma, although the most common one is open-angle glaucoma.
- Primary Open-angle Glaucoma
This common type of glaucoma, if untreated, will reduce your peripheral vision without any other noticeable symptoms.
- Acute Angle-closure Glaucoma
This type of glaucoma will produce sudden eye pain, headaches, halos around lights, dilated pupils, vision loss, red eyes, nausea, and vomiting. These sudden symptoms can be continuous or can come in rounds. Each round would result in more eye loss and, thus, should be treated immediately to prevent further loss.
- Normal-tension Glaucoma
This is a type of open-angle glaucoma that results without high pressure in the eye. Similarly to Primary Open-angle Glaucoma, permanent damage is not often noticed until tunnel vision presents itself. Normal-tension glaucoma is most common if you are Japanese, a female, or have a history of vascular disease.
- Pigmentary Glaucoma
This form of glaucoma is caused when pigment breaks loose from the iris and causes a blockage in the drainage angle. There may not be noticeable symptoms, besides sometimes blurriness or pain after exercising. This is most common if you are a male between the ages of 30s-40s.
- Secondary Glaucoma
An eye injury, infection, inflammation, tumor, or enlargement of the lens could result in secondary glaucoma.
- Congenital Glaucoma
This is an inherited form of glaucoma, with 80% of its cases diagnosed by age one. The child is born with narrow angles or another defect. As children often don’t understand what’s happening to them, symptoms for this can be hard to detect. If you notice any haziness or cloudiness in your child, call or see an eye doctor as soon as possible.
Glaucoma Symptoms and Diagnosis
Unfortunately, glaucoma is often a silent and unrecognizable disorder, until the damage is already done. In many cases, someone would slowly lose their peripheral vision until, if their eyes remain untreated, their vision is lost.
This is why regular eye checkups are so important. In a routine checkup, eye doctors use a tonometer to measure the pressure in both of your eyes. Other methods of detecting glaucoma use in-depth imaging technology, such as scanning laser polarimetry, optical coherence tomography, and confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy.
We at Williamson Eye Institute are here for any questions or concerns you might have about your vision. Please contact us with anything you might want to ask about your eye health. To find out more, visit our website or call our office to schedule a personal consultation. You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.