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What Everyone Should Know About Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma, affects about 3 million Americans - half of whom don't even know they have it. While there is currently no known cure for Glaucoma, early detection and treatment can help prevent further loss of vision and blindness. Specialized eye care centers, can provide individual aid and consultation to those in need.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, which can lead to vision loss, or even blindness.

What causes Glaucoma?

At the front of the eye, there is a space called the anterior chamber. Clear fluid flows continuously in and out of this space and nourishes nearby tissues. With glaucoma, the fluid drains too slowly out of the eye. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises. Unless this pressure is controlled, it may cause damage to the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at higher risk than others. They include:

• African-Americans over age 40

• Everyone over age 60

• Diabetics

• People with a family history of glaucoma

What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

At first, open-angle glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. As glaucoma remains untreated, people often notice that they see things clearly in front of them, yet they can no longer see objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. (Peripheral vision diminishes.) Without treatment, people with glaucoma may find that they suddenly have no side vision. It may seem as though they are looking through a tunnel. Over time, the remaining forward vision may diminish until there is no vision left.

Click to View the Interactive Glaucoma Vision Test

How is Glaucoma detected?

Visual Acuity: This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.

Tonometry: This standard test determines the fluid pressure inside the eye. There are many types of tonometry. One type uses a blue light to measure pressure. Another type is the “air puff” test, which measures the resistance of the eye to a puff of air.

Pupil Dilation: This examination provides your eye care professional with a better view of the optic nerve to check for signs of damage.

Visual Field: This test measures your side (peripheral) vision. It helps your eye doctor to find out if you have lost side vision, a sign of glaucoma.

How is Glaucoma treated?

Medications: Medicines are the most common early treatment of glaucoma. They come in the form of eyedrops and pills. Some cause the eye to make less fluid; but most lower pressure by helping fluid drain from the eye.

Laser Surgery (also called laser trabeculoplasty): During this procedure, a high-energy beam of light is focused on the part of the anterior chamber where the fluid leaves the eye. The laser makes 50-100 evenly spaced burns. These burns stretch the drainage holes to allow fluid drain more easily through them.

Conventional Surgery: The purpose of surgery is to make a new opening for the fluid to leave the eye. Surgery is usually reserved for patients whose pressure cannot be controlled with eyedrops, pills, or laser surgery. It is important to know that while glaucoma surgery may save remaining vision, it does not improve sight. For conventional surgery, it is important to find a good doctor who knows a safe procedure, such as the glaucoma shunt used by Dr. Bruckner of Augusta, Georgia.

What can you do to protect your vision?

If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine daily and see your eye doctor regularly. Consult a knowledgeable glaucoma doctor. Encourage “high-risk” family members and friends to have an eye examination every two years.

This article about glaucoma has been provided courtesy of DoctorDirect.

Articles about other vision disorders : Types of Glaucoma, Secondary Glaucoma, Acute Angle Glaucoma, Glaucoma Risk Factors, Diabetes and Glaucoma, Lasik and Glaucoma, Diabetic Eye Disease, Dry Eye, Amblyopia, Macular Degeneration, Computer Vision Syndrome, Cataracts, Cancer of the Eye, Keratoconus, and Epithelial and Stromal Dystrophies.

Click to View the Interactive Cataracts Vision Test

Click to View the Interactive Macular Degeneration Vision Test

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