Glaucoma is a progressive disease of the optic nerve that results from excess pressure due to fluid build up that gradually damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the structure that transmits the signal of what you see to your brain. Thus, with damage to the optic nerve there is a potential irreversible loss of vision.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma that happens when the eye does not properly drain the fluid it produces. The fluid builds up result in a high eye pressure that damages the optic nerve. Primary Open Angle Glaucoma is painless, unnoticeable and only detected by a doctor. Regular eye exams are vital to recognizing glaucoma early on and preserving vision to its fullest capacity.
Angle Closure Glaucoma results from the anatomy of the eye in which the iris is very close to the angle that drains that fluid that the eye produces. Blocking the drainage angle causes a quick rise in eye pressure and a variety of symptoms such as blurry vision, severe eye pain, headache, and vomiting. Most people that have angle closure glaucoma develop it slowly. It’s signs may be identified by your ophthalmologist or optometrist and action may be taken to prevent an acute attack.
Your lifestyle choices may increase your risk of glaucoma. Studies have shown that smoking cigarettes may increase your risk of glaucoma (as well as several other disease such as macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, etc.). It is never too late to quit smoking. Visit smokefree.gov to get started or speak to your doctor who can recommend other methods to start your smoke-free, healthy lifestyle.
Once your eye doctor diagnoses your glaucoma, they can start you on a personalized treatment plan specific to your needs. Glaucoma is usually managed first with eye drops with the goal of reducing your eye pressure. These drops either reduce the amount of fluid your eye makes or increase the outflow of your drainage angle. If drops are not sufficient to decrease your eye pressure, laser surgery is the next option. Dr. Julia Giyaur is a board certified ophthalmologist that specializes in the latest glaucoma laser procedures. These in office procedures are quick and aimed at maintaining the health of the optic nerve by decreasing the pressure in the eye.