What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages your optic nerve. The optic nerve is what communicates visual information from your eyes to your brain. Over time, high pressure inside of the eyeball causes the optic nerve to become damaged which leads to blindness. Early detection may help to prevent further damage. Pressure is most commonly caused by blockage. The back of your eye constantly produces a fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid fills the front part of your eye through channels in your cornea and iris. If these channels are blocked or partially obstructed, the inside pressure inside your eye may increase and possibly damage your optic nerve by causing it to become swollen. As this condition worsens, you begin to lose sight. This is because the part of your nerve responsible for passing messages from your eyes to your brain is being damaged over time.
Types of Glaucoma
There are 5 major types of Glaucoma, which are:
- Open-angle (chronic) Glaucoma – Also known as chronic glaucoma, is the most common form of the disease. This type has no signs or symptoms except for gradual vision loss. Development can be so slow that any damage done to your vision may be irreparable before you notice there’s a problem.
- Angle-Closure (Acute) Glaucoma – Fluid in the eye typically flows freely in one direction, but when fluid leaves too slowly or enters too quickly it can cause an imbalance and blockage that results in glaucoma. Acute glaucoma is an emergency situation. It is advised to seek help immediately if experiencing blurred vision, nausea and intense pain.
- Congenital Glaucoma – Childhood Glaucoma is found in infants and young children. It is usually diagnosed within the first year after birth. This can be inherited and is an incorrect or underdevelopment of the drainage system in the eyes before birth. Symptoms are excessive tearing, cloudy eyes and sensitivity to light.
- Secondary Glaucoma – This is glaucoma that is developed because of an injury or as a side effect. This can be another eye disease, a tumor, side effects of a medicine or rarely surgery.
- Normal tension glaucoma – Hense the name, this glaucoma is not caused by a buildup of pressure. Damage to the optic nerve is still done but the cause is unknown. Sensitivity or blood flow are thought to be factors.
Because there are no symptoms for open angle glaucoma it is important to regularly get checked. Acute glaucoma is an emergency, if you experience any of the following seek help form a professional immediately:
- Severe eye pain
- Sudden eye redness
- Vision disturbances
- Seeing colored rings surrounding lights
- Sudden blurred vision
Occurrences that can cause a blockage or damage to the optic nerve include:
- Dilating eye drops
- Blocks or restrictions of drainage in the eye
- Medications like corticosteroids
- Insufficient blood flow to optic nerve
- Elevated or high blood pressure
Factors that put you more at risk of glaucoma include:
- Age – people who are over 60 at high risk. This risk increases slightly with each year. African-Americans this increase in risk is from 40.
- Ethnicity – Africans or people of African descent are more than twice as likely to develop glaucoma than Caucasians. People of Asian descent are more susceptible to angle-closure glaucoma, and people of Japanese descent are more likely to develop low-tension glaucoma.
- Eye problems – Thin corneas and chronic inflammation of the eye, can cause the pressure in your eyes to increase drastically. Physical injury or trauma to your eye, being hit in your eye for example, can also cause your eye pressure to increase.
- Family history – this can be passed genetically. If a family member has suffered your chances are increased.
- Medical history – people who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease are at increased risk.
At Centre of Balance we regularly see glaucoma patients. If you’d like to learn more or suspect you might be suffering from glaucoma symptoms, contact us through our website.
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