Glaucoma an eye disease and the second cause of blindness in the United States. The vision can be permanently damaged due to the optic neuropathy associated with intraocular pressure. The increased fluid pressure in the eye is called ocular hypertension for people that don’t have associate damage to the nerve. Nerve damage causes a loss of retinal ganglion cells. Some people can have a raised intraocular pressure without experiencing nerve damage while other quickly develop this condition, even if they have a lower pressure. Leaving this eye disease untreated can cause permanent damage and loss of visual field that can lead to blindness.
Because the loss of vision is a slow, gradual processes that happens over a long period of time, glaucoma is sometimes called “the silent thief of sight”. Symptoms begin to show when disease is already in an advanced stage and the vision can no longer be recovered. If it is detected early, the development can be controlled and the progression slowed. One in 200 people younger than 50 suffer from glaucoma and one in 10 people over the age of 80.
There are two main categories of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma responsible for 90% of all cases in the US . This type is not painful and the only symptom is progressive visual field loss. The other category, closed-angle glaucoma causes 10% of cases and included symptoms such as very high intraocular pressure, sudden ocular pain, red eye, nausea, vomiting, a dilated pupil and decreased vision.
Normal-tension glaucoma is an open-angle ilness. The intraocular pressure is normal, although the patient still experiences optic nerve damage and visual field loss. This form of eye disease is more common in people with a history of vascular disease and Japanese women. Pigmentary glaucoma is caused by pigment broken lose from the iris that clogs the drainage angle of the eye. Secondary glaucoma can develop after eye injury, eye infection, cataract, inflammation or a tumor and has symptoms of chronic glaucoma. Congenital glaucoma is inherited and present at birth. Almost 89% of cases are diagnosed in the first year of birth and occur more often in boys.
Glaucoma screening is normally part of the standard eye examination. A visual field test and measurement of intraocular pressure are the best indicators. Tell your doctor about family history, inheritance and history of drug use. There are many available treatments such as surgery, medication, lasers and eye drops. Studies show that higher levels of physical exercise reduces the risk of developing this eye disease by 25%. Avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and normal weight can also prevent glaucoma.