Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve of the eye. Fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, causing increased pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. However, if detected early, blindness from glaucoma can be prevented. People with a higher risk of glaucoma including African Americans over the age of 40, individuals in the general population over the age of 60, and those who have family members diagnosed with glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two major types of glaucoma: Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma and Angle-Closure Glaucoma (also called Closed-Angle Glaucoma or Narrow-Angle Glaucoma.)
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It happens gradually, where the eye does not drain fluid as well as it should (like a clogged drain). As a result, eye pressure builds and starts to damage the optic nerve. This type of glaucoma is painless and causes no vision changes at first.
Some people can have optic nerves that are sensitive to normal eye pressure. This means their risk of getting glaucoma is higher than normal. Regular eye exams are important to find early signs of damage to their optic nerve.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma occurs when a person's iris is very close to the drainage angle in their eye. The iris can end up blocking the drainage angle. You can think of it like a piece of paper sliding over a sink drain. When the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure rises very quickly. This is called an acute attack.
Here are the signs of an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack:
- Your vision is suddenly blurry
- You have severe eye pain
- You have a headache
- You feel sick to your stomach (nausea)
- You throw up (vomit)
- You see rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights
Many people with angle-closure glaucoma develop it slowly. This is called chronic angle-closure glaucoma. There are no symptoms at first, so they don’t know they have it until the damage is severe or they have an attack. Angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness if not treated right away.
The best way to diagnosis glaucoma is with a complete eye examination. During your examination, Dr. Victor will:
1. Measure your eye pressure.
2. Examine the eye's drainage angle.
3. Examine the optic nerve for any damage.
4. Perform a visual field test, if necessary
5. Take a photo of the optic nerve using a fundus camera, if necessary.
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