What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma Symptoms, Treatment & Risks
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve. In its early stages, glaucoma may present few or no symptoms and can gradually steal sight without warning. In fact, most people affected by glaucoma do not know they have it. If left undetected and untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
One of the major risk factors for glaucoma is elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. A healthy eye procedure fluids, called aqueous humor, at the same rate at which it drains. High pressure occurs when the drainage system is blocked and the fluid cannot exit at a normal rate. This increased IOP pushes against the optic nerve causing gradual damage, which may result in vision loss, usually starting with the peripheral, or side vision. Increased eye pressure is often associated with gradual damage to the nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve. IOP is currently the only treatable risk factor for glaucoma.
Who are at risk for Glaucoma?
- People with the family history of glaucoma
- People over 40 years of age
- People with diabetes
- People who have used steroids for a long period of time
- People with physical eye injuries
How is Glaucoma diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye check-up by an ophthalmologist is the best way to detect glaucoma. A complete eye examination includes measuring IOP and evaluating the drainage angle of the eye and the optic nerve. Additionally, visual field tests are used to evaluate the peripheral vision of each eye.
How can Glaucoma be treated?
While there is no cure for glaucoma, elevated IOP is currently the only treatable risk factor. It is important to treat aggressively with the most effective products such as a prescription eye drops that can provide maximum reduction of elevated IOP with long-term control. In some cases, surgery can also help. It is important for patients to use medication as prescribed and maintain regular examinations with an ophthalmologist who can evaluate glaucoma progression and treatment options.
When is World Glaucoma Day?
World Glaucoma Day is on 6 March.