Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, behind only cataracts. Known as “the silent thief of sight,” it is a scary disease for a few reasons.
Glaucoma is incurable, irreversible, and the most common form has no symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and how you can prevent it from taking your eyesight.
Why is Glaucoma the Second Leading Cause of Blindness?
First of all, glaucoma has no cure. Once you develop it, you have it for life and can only manage your symptoms.
Also, the damage it causes to your eyes is irreversible. Plus, glaucoma is incredibly challenging to detect.
An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, yet only about half are aware of its presence. That’s because the most common form of glaucoma has no apparent vision loss symptoms and causes no pain.
The vision loss is so gradual that it is already too late when you realize you are having difficulty seeing. But, while there is no cure for glaucoma, you can manage its effects with medication.
The only way to prevent vision loss or blindness is to catch it early. Regular visits to the eye doctor are the best defense against glaucoma.
How Glaucoma Steals Your Vision
Glaucoma may make you feel like a helpless victim waiting for the silent thief of sight to rob you of your vision. But this is not the case.
Regular eye appointments can reveal the presence of glaucoma. Your eye doctor can run basic tests on you to make sure you do not have it.
Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage meshwork inside your eye becomes partially blocked. Average eye fluid production continues, but the fluid gets blocked from draining out of your eye as quickly as it enters.
In this situation, the net pressure in your eye slowly but steadily increases. As this pressure builds, it begins to press on your optic nerve.
Once the pressure on your optic nerve is high enough, it begins to get damaged. The optic nerve sends signals from your eye to your brain, which is how you see.
Glaucoma causes vision loss by damaging your optic nerve to the point that it cannot send signals to your brain. The amount of damage that causes vision loss depends on your optic nerve’s durability.
How You Can Detect Glaucoma
The amount of pressure in your eyes can indicate the presence of glaucoma. Your eye doctor can use simple tests to determine how much pressure you have in your eyes.
To test eye pressure, the doctor will perform tonometry during a comprehensive exam. There are two ways to measure the pressure in your eyes.
Your eye doctor may use a probe that presses on your eyeball or a machine that delivers a sharp puff of air to the eyes. They measure the resistance to the probe or air pressure.
Your doctor may prescribe glaucoma treatment for one of two reasons. They will recommend treatment if your internal eye pressure is higher than average or increased since your previous exam.
Medicated eye drops are a typical treatment for glaucoma. These eyedrops reduce eye pressure by relaxing the eye muscles to allow fluids to drain more freely.
Or they reduce the production of eye fluid in general. In some cases, hybrid glaucoma treatment to relax the eye and minimize fluid production is beneficial.
In emergency cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure quickly. The patient will still need to use glaucoma drops to manage the eye pressure after the procedure.
There’s no doubt that glaucoma is intimidating. But if you visit your eye doctor early enough and frequently enough, you can prevent it from taking your vision.
Schedule an eye exam at Arizona Eye Physicians and Surgeons in Glendale, AZ, to ensure you are glaucoma-free!