Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The disease causes progressive damage to the optic nerve, irreversible vision loss and blindness if left untreated.
Glaucoma most often occurs in people over age 40, although a congenital or infantile form of glaucoma exists. The most common form of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, is associated with an increase in the fluid pressure inside the eye. This increase in pressure may cause progressive damage to the optic nerve and loss of nerve fibers, which results in vision loss. Advanced glaucoma may even cause blindness. Not everyone with high eye pressure will develop glaucoma, and many people with normal eye pressure will develop glaucoma.
When eye care providers measure eye pressure, your results are compared to a normal range. But, a “good” eye pressure, like blood pressure and the risk of glaucoma, (or heart disease) will vary according to the individual and other risk factors. People with a family history of glaucoma, age, certain race and ethnicities (African-American and Hispanic), thinner corneas, large optic nerves, certain medications have higher risks of developing glaucoma.
How Does Glaucoma Affect Vision?
Glaucoma is a dangerous condition, because of the progressive nature of the condition. Glaucoma will slowly take away your peripheral (side) vision; it affects the central vision at the end of the disease.
The eye produces a fluid, called aqueous. The aqueous provides nutrients to the tissues inside the eye, as well as helps give the eye its shape! However, too much aqueous puts you at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. People who have glaucoma, the aqueous creates a pressure inside of your eyes that crushes the optic nerve. The problem with glaucoma is either from too much aqueous being produced and, or the aqueous is being drained too slowly. A good analogy is to compare the eye to a kitchen sink. Too much water in the sink means, too much water is entering the sink and, or water is not being drained quickly enough. The excess water creates more pressure.
Should you have moderate, advanced or a visual impairment from glaucoma, you also need a low vision evaluation from a low vision specialist.
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Common misspelling Anthony Nguyen