One of the most common causes of blindness in American adults is glaucoma. More than 3 million Americans are living with the condition, and many suffer from low vision or blindness as a result. The first step in understanding glaucoma is to learn the basics of the condition. Then, you can talk with your ophthalmologist about the best course of treatment.
In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of glaucoma so that you can be informed.
What is Glaucoma? How Does it Happen?
The eye is separated into the anterior and posterior chambers by the lens and muscle. There is also a structure called the ciliary body that produces fluid. This fluid fills the anterior chamber and needs to be continuously drained. When glaucoma is present, the fluid will not drain. As a result, it builds up in the eye, causing pressure.
There are three main types of glaucoma:
-Angle closure glaucoma. The angle is blocked so the fluid is unable to drain. Pressure builds up and affects eyesight.
-Open angle glaucoma. The angle stays open but fluids accumulate at the back of the blocked angle
-Normal tension glaucoma. Also called low-pressure glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged even though pressure is not
What are the Risk Factors for Glaucoma?
High eye pressure alone does not cause glaucoma. It is a risk factor that can raise your risk for developing glaucoma in the future. Other risk factors to be aware of are:
-Optic nerve damage
-High blood pressure
-Eye surgery or eye injury
-Use of corticosteroids
-Family history of glaucoma
-Age 60 and older
Can Glaucoma be Prevented? How is it Treated?
The best way to prevent glaucoma is by living a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and regular exercise. It’s also important to take care of your eye health by wearing sunglasses and having routine eye exams.
If you have already been diagnosed with glaucoma, treatment is available to reduce further damage. Unfortunately, the damage that has occurred is permanent and cannot be reversed. Treatment options may include:
-Medication. Eye drop medications can be used to lower eye pressure.
-Laser surgery. Surgery is done to drain fluid from the eye. The two types of laser surgery include trabeculoplasty and iridotomy.
Glaucoma may be common, but it’s a leading cause of blindness. Be proactive in working with an eye specialist to treat your glaucoma and prevent further damage.