Known as the “sneaky thief of sight” for its lack of symptoms, Glaucoma is second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. It is a disease of the optic nerve -the part of the eye that carries the images we see to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers, like an electric cable containing numerous wires. When damage to the optic nerve fibers occurs, blind spots develop. These blind spots usually go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results. Early detection and treatment by your eye doctor is the key to preventing blindness.
What Causes Glaucoma?
In the eye, a clear liquid call the aqueous humor circulates inside the front portion of it. To maintain a healthy level of pressure, a small amount of this fluid is produced constantly while an equal amount flows out of the eye through its own drainage system. If this drain is blocked, the excess fluid can’t flow out of the eye and will push against the optic nerve and cause permanent damage.
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
The most important risk factors include:
- elevated eye pressure
- family history of glaucoma
- African or Hispanic ancestry
- farsightedness or nearsightedness
- pre-existing thinning of the optic nerve
- thinner central corneal thickness
- past eye injuries
- systemic health problems, including diabetes, migraine headaches, and poor circulation
How is Glaucoma Detected?
Regular eye exams are the best way to detect glaucoma. Here are some of the test that are performed at a glaucoma evaluation:
- tonometry to measure your intraocular pressure
- gonioscopy to inspect the drainage angle of your eye
- ophthalmoscopy to evaluate whether or not there is any optic nerve damage
- visual field testing to test the peripheral vision of each eye
- photography of the optic nerve
- scanning of the retinal nerve fiber layer
How is Glaucoma Treated?
Damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eyedrops, laser surgery and surgery in the operating room are all forms of treatment to lower the intraocular pressure to help prevent further damage to the optic nerve. Since glaucoma can progress without your knowledge, it is very important to keep all of your appointments with your Hartford, CT eye doctors.