Glaucoma Eye Disease

Elevated eye pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma.

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the optic nerve experiences damage. This damage can cause loss of eyesight over a period of time. In most cases, glaucoma is not reversible, and is most commonly caused by a buildup of fluids in the eye. Some forms of glaucoma can come on suddenly and be quite painful. Other forms happen slowly and progress with age. Across the world, this disease is the second most common cause of blindness. Fortunately, new treatments and procedures are being developed to help treat and sometimes lessen the severity of glaucoma.

Causes

For most with glaucoma, it is caused by increase pressure inside the eye, usually due to fluids. Some people may have more shallow chambers inside the eye. High blood pressure, heavy use of steroids, diabetes or trauma resulting in eye injuries are other typical causes. There are some indicators that glaucoma can also be genetic in some cases.

Risk Factors

Pressure that builds up within the eye along with increase in fluid are the most common risk factors for glaucoma. Aging and smoking are also factors that can increase a person's risk. Race and background play a role as well. People over the age of 60 are more susceptible, as are African Americans and those who have relatives with the disease. People who use steroids have been found to be a high risk for glaucoma, and in some cases, people with nearsightedness.

  • Are You at Risk? – A list of some of the most common risk factors for glaucoma.
  • Strong & Potential Factors – Includes the strongest risk factors along with some other potential factors.
  • Factors & Odds – More risk factors, as well as how your odds may increase if you fall into a certain category.

Symptoms

Since most cases of glaucoma gradually get worse over a long period of time, symptoms may not be apparent immediately. Peripheral vision diminishes as the fluid builds up in the eye, making driving and other tasks dangerous. The patient's visual field becomes less and less easy to see, and eyesight becomes blurred. Headaches, blurriness and double vision are also common. Some people will experience blackness on either side of their vision, and begin to see "tunnel vision". Unfortunately, many people do not know they have glaucoma or think to get tested until their vision is almost lost completely.

Diagnosis

Ophthalmologists perform vision tests and tonometry tests, which measure eye pressure. An evaluation of the optic nerve can also indicate whether glaucoma is present. A visual field test will show the eye doctor whether or not the patient is experiencing the common sight related symptoms associated with glaucoma. Sometimes, a stereoscopic camera will be used to take photos of the eye and the nerves behind it.

  • Diagnostic Tests – This website discusses the four most common tests used to diagnose glaucoma.
  • Diagnosis – Explains what is behind glaucoma and how tests can determine a diagnosis.

Treatment

There are some treatments for glaucoma. Specially made eye drops can be used that can help to lower and control the interocular pressure of the eye. Eye drops are most commonly used treatment and usually preferred over surgery. Surgery is administered in some cases, and there are several different types. Laser surgery has become the most popular method of surgical treatment. Another method involves making a microscopic incision in the eye to assist with drainage of fluids. Drainage implants as well as other types of surgery can also be administered after careful review.

  • Surgery – This page focuses on laser surgery, as well as some newer techniques for helping patients with glaucoma.
  • Drops and Tablets – A list of prescription eye drops and tablets used to help patients cope with their glaucoma.
  • Controlling Pressure – This site discusses a new method used to help with removing the pressure of built up fluids.
  • Trabectome – A specialized surgical procedure that has been known to be effective in treating glaucoma.

Research & Developments

Glaucoma is a fairly common disease, so scientists and doctors are working on new ways of treatment as well as research into causes for the disease. By better assessing risk factors and by being able to diagnose glaucoma earlier, patients have a better chance at treatment. Increased awareness and education about glaucoma can also help reduce risks of more severe symptoms. Scientific developments in medication and surgeries have also helped to alleviate vision loss and fluid pressure buildup.

Support

Support among glaucoma sufferers is important. People who suffer from the disease must deal with ongoing symptoms and treatment. By enlisting the support of others who are also dealing with glaucoma, patients can get new information and moral support. There are a number of support groups both online and in person. Meeting with people on a regular basis who also have glaucoma can give people hope for a better life.

  • Support Center – A number of resources for help and support can be found here.
  • Online Support – This site has articles and an interactive forum where those with glaucoma can meet and discuss.

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