Glaucoma is an eye condition that affects the optic nerve, and if left untreated, can cause blindness. There are different types, with open-angle glaucoma being the most common form. This condition develops very slowly and usually goes unnoticed until it causes severe loss of side (peripheral) vision or difficulty in adjusting to a darkened room. Most people can save their vision with early diagnosis and treatment.
Glaucoma Treatment and Causes
Treatments include medicines in the form of eye drops, laser or conventional surgery or a combination of both. While treatments may save remaining vision, they will not improve sight already lost from this condition. Early detection is important, especially since generally there are no symptoms until it has begun to steal your vision.
The exact cause is not well known, but one of the major risk factors for glaucoma is elevated eye pressure. This condition occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises over time. If left untreated, this increased pressure inside the eye can eventually damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.
Glaucoma also has a hereditary component. Simply having someone in your family diagnosed with this condition does not automatically mean you will get it; however, it increases your risk. Regular eye exams for people with this risk factor are especially important, particularly as people get older.
It is possible to have high eye pressure, known as ocular hypertension, and not have glaucoma. Conversely, it is possible to have glaucoma with normal or low pressure in the eyes. A small percentage of glaucoma patients fall into this category. This is why it is so important to have an eye examination. It is the only way to detect it, and treatment options are best when detected early.