Who develops glaucoma?
Glaucoma is fairly common over the age of 35, affecting 3 of every 100 persons. It is the second leading cause of blindness in people over 40. The number of persons affected by glaucoma is expected to rise dramatically as our population of ‘baby-boomers’ age.
What causes glaucoma?
There are several different types of glaucoma. Some types are caused by increased pressure within the eye that destroy the optic nerve, if not treated promptly. A constant level of liquid called the aqueous humor is maintained in the inner chamber of the eye. Fluid flows into the eye from several structures, and drains from the eye at a spongy outlet located at the angle where the cornea and sclera meet. If the outlet is clogged or the drainage system is overwhelmed by too much liquid production, a buildup of fluid occurs and causes a pressure increase inside the eyeball. This places pressure on the optic nerve and its blood supply that can cause serious irreversible damage. Eye injury, tumor, hemorrhage, or infection can cause a blockage in the drainage system (and the resulting increase pressure).
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
In most cases there are no symptoms.
Are there different types of glaucoma?
Yes there are many different kinds of glaucoma, but there are two major types: chronic and acute.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Prevention involves early detection through a comprehensive eye health examination especially after age 35. Sometimes the level of pressure may be normal, yet there are no symptoms, so an eye examination is the only way to discover the problem. An instrument called a tonometer is used to measure the pressure of the eye. The optic nerve is assessed by a procedure called ophthalmoscopy, which uses specialized equipment to look inside the eye. A visual field analyzer checks for blind spots in the field of vision.
Who develops glaucoma?
People with a family history are more likely to develop the problem, as are those who are nearsighted. Some diseases that impact the entire body, such as diabetes, anemia, or hardening of the arteries increase the risk of developing the condition.
How is glaucoma treated?
The primary form of treatment is still medication. These medications either increase the drainage of fluid or decrease the production of fluid to lower the pressure within the eye. Laser surgery is also a treatment in some cases as is specialized microsurgery. The goal of glaucoma treatment is to prevent further damage and to preserve the highest possible level of vision.
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