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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition with increased pressure in the inner eye (intraocular pressure, IOP) due to excess fluid buildup that ultimately causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is considered the “silent thief of vision” as it slowly and progressively damages your sight.

What are the symptoms?

There are two types of Glaucoma.

  • Open-angle glaucoma
  • Angle-closure glaucoma (also called “closed-angle glaucoma” or “narrow-angle glaucoma”)

There are generally no noticeable symptoms in the early stages of open-angle glaucoma. As the disease progresses, patients develop blind spots in their peripheral (side) vision, and eventually, their central vision is also compromised.

People who develop angle-closure glaucoma have no symptoms either but are struck by an attack of blurred vision with halos, possible headaches or eye pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include race, age, elevated IOP, female gender, nearsightedness, and hereditary.

What causes glaucoma?

Your eye constantly makes aqueous humor. As new aqueous flows into your eye, the same amount should drain out. The fluid drains out through an area called the drainage angle. This process keeps pressure in the eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP) stable. But if the drainage angle is not working properly, fluid builds up. Pressure inside the eye rises, damaging the optic nerve.

If the drainage angle is blocked, fluid cannot flow out of the eye, causing pressure to increase.

How is Glaucoma diagnosed?

The best way to diagnose glaucoma is to get an annual comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor will measure your eye pressure, examine your optic nerve, test your central and peripheral vision, and more to detect changes in your eyes or sight that might indicate early-stage glaucoma.

What are the treatments?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. However, medication or surgery can slow its progression and help prevent further vision loss.

The proper treatment will depend on the type of glaucoma, progression, and other factors. It may include eye drops, medication, surgery, or a combination.

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