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Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve and may result in vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. When the optic nerve is damaged, blind spots start developing. When these blind spots go untreated the optic nerve can suffer significant damage. However, with early treatment, you can prevent any further damage to your optic nerve that may lead to blindness. 

Primary open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma are the two different types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type and the risk of developing this type of glaucoma increases with age. Closed-angle glaucoma prevents the fluid from exiting the eye and pressure inside the eye builds rapidly and causes an acute angle closure attack. Symptoms may include blurred vision, severe eye pain, headache, rainbow halos around lights and nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms please call your ophthalmologist immediately, as this is considered a true ocular emergency. 

What is the optic nerve?

The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers. It connects the retina to the brain. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision.

What causes Glaucoma?

Aqueous humor is the clear liquid that circulates in the front portion of your eye. The fluid is produced consistently in small amounts and it flows through a microscopic drainage system. This clear liquid is not the same as your tears that are produced on the outside surface of your eye. 

If the flow through the drainage system is blocked, the fluid cannot flow in and out of the eye, which increases the pressure within the eye, and it pushes against the optic nerve and can cause damage. 

What are the treatments for Glaucoma?

Treatment for glaucoma is determined by your ophthalmologist. The treatment could include a combination of laser surgeries and eye drops. These treatments are the only way to lower the pressure to help treat glaucoma. Unfortunately, the damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed. 

Am I at risk for Glaucoma?

Age, elevated eye pressure, family history, African or Hispanic ancestry, corneal thickness, systemic health problems and thinning of the optic nerve are all factors your ophthalmologist will consider before determining any diagnosis.

Does increased eye pressure mean I have glaucoma?

Not necessarily. Increased pressure means you are at risk for glaucoma, but does not mean you have the disease.  Increased pressure does not mean optic nerve damage is present. Glaucoma is diagnosed when optic nerve damage is detected. 

How can I prevent Glaucoma?

Having regular eye exams can help prevent any vision loss and early detection of ocular diseases.