Glaucoma is a common eye disease that affects nearly 3 million people yearly. Although these numbers seem staggering, it is nothing compared to the number of those who are now blind because of the disease. Almost 6 million people are blind in both eyes because of glaucoma. Glaucoma sounds like some type of infection, but it is not that at all. It is merely a buildup of pressure in the eyes that creates serious eye problems. This is one disease that you absolutely cannot ignore because it puts you at risk of being blind. Knowing the symptoms of Glaucoma will help make you aware of the disease and get the treatment you need as soon as possible.
They say you never know what you got until it’s gone. When it comes to our eyes, that is very true. We can sometimes take them for granted until we cannot see anymore. The eyes are small structures, but they have many parts. Unlike other parts of the body, it does not operate strictly on muscles, neurons, and ligaments. It also uses light. Without light, we could not see. Try going into a dark room. If there is no light at all, you cannot see anything. The eyes take that light and turn it into a picture that we see. Nerves are a huge part of why that happens and how that works. The muscles and ligaments are there to help hold the eye in place and bring movement. Like with other parts of the body, the eyes also have fluid. Fluid is necessary for both the prevention of dry eyes and proper function, but too much of it is a problem.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
The symptoms of glaucoma are very subtle. Many people do not know they even have it. Sometimes you begin to lose peripheral vision. This may subsequently cause tunnel vision. You can experience headaches and eye pain suddenly. Although rare, nausea and vomiting may occur. Upon examination, the doctor will notice redness. When looking at light, halos will be seen. Some people have a lazy eye. This symptom is also rare, but extremely common in infants with glaucoma. The ultimate symptom is vision loss. Once you lose your vision, there is not much else you can do for treatment.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two different types of glaucoma. The first type is Open-angle glaucoma. Every eye has an area where the fluid drains. This drain helps the fluid stay at a normal level. In open-angle glaucoma, your eyes look completely normal, but the fluid continues to build up because it is not draining through the back of the eye properly. This is the most common type of glaucoma. The second type of glaucoma is called angle-closure glaucoma. The fluid in the eye also does not drain properly, but for completely different reasons. The angle of the cornea and iris creates a space that is too narrow for the fluid to drain. There is blockage primarily because of the iris. This form of glaucoma is not as common, but it is just as severe.
Now that you understand the causes of glaucoma, it is important to know the things that put you at risk for the disease. If you are over the age of 40, you are at a much higher risk of glaucoma. It can happen in younger people and children, but it is rare. Your nationality also makes a difference. Certain nationalities have a higher risk for the disease. These nationalities include African Americans, Russian, Japanese, and Hispanic. Family history is another risk factor. Those who have many family members with the disease, especially immediate family may have it as well. Unfortunately, poor vision also puts you at risk along with eye injuries. Diseases like diabetes affect your eyes in a negative way. Certain medications put you at risk as well.
Glaucoma is not anything that you can just diagnose yourself. Most of the symptoms are only noticeable to an ophthalmologist. The doctor will look into the eyes and see the build up of pressure. They can also see if any damage has already been done. The optic nerve is the primary part of the eye the doctor focuses on. When there are issues in the optic nerve, they may do a test to see the fluid pressure in the eye. These two things confirm a glaucoma diagnosis. Once diagnosed, eye drops are the first step for treatment. When glaucoma is caught early, eye drops may be all you need. In the more advanced stages, surgery is necessary. Laser surgery or microsurgery are the two surgical options. They both increase the flow of fluid by making either a new channel or creating a hole in part of the iris.
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can leave you blind. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, but it does not have to become serious. Glaucoma is not life-threatening, but it will affect your quality of life. Not being able to see is a tragic thing. Since you do not always notice symptoms, it is extremely important for you to have eye exams yearly. Just by getting your annual eye exam, you avoid all the more serious problems with glaucoma. If you are diagnosed with the disease, get the treatment you need before it is too late.
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