Glaucoma is a silent eye disease that slowly steals your vision away. It is called a silent eye disease because in the early stages there are usually no symptoms or warning signs that you have it. It often affects your peripheral vision first and without treatment, glaucoma can lead to blindness. Think of eye pressure like a bathtub with the faucet running. If the faucet is running too fast or the drain is running too slowly, then the tub will overflow. Similarly, the eye pressure rises when there is a mismatch between the fluid being produced in the eye (the faucet) and the ability of the fluid to leave the eye (the drain).

How does glaucoma cause vision loss?

Glaucoma is a progressive condition where the pressure inside your eye (the IOP) is too high for your eye. High eye pressure causes damage to the optic nerve which in turn affects your field of vision. The optic nerve is like a TV cable and is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain. Damage the cable and your TV signal will not transmit. In glaucoma, damage to the nerve typically causes loss of your peripheral vision first and without treatment, it can progress to blindness.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

There are frequently NO symptoms of glaucoma until late in the disease when the damage is severe. Often the pressure rise is gradual and since the vision loss is in the periphery at first it goes unnoticed. This is the reason why routine eye exams and eye pressure checks are important to detect glaucoma early.

Is there a cure for glaucoma?

Currently, there is no cure for glaucoma. There are, however, many successful treatments that can help control eye pressure and slow down the disease.

Treatments for glaucoma

There are many good treatments for glaucoma today including cold laser treatments (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty), eye drops and oral medications, and surgical procedures. The overall goal of glaucoma treatments is to lower the eye pressure either by slowing down the production of fluid in the eye or improving the outflow of fluid from the eye. Like an overflowing bathtub, we are trying to slow down the faucet or improve the drain. Consult with your ophthalmologist, a glaucoma specialist, or come to Tailored Eyes to see which treatment or combination of treatments is best for you.

Who is at risk to get glaucoma?

The short answer is that everyone is at risk of glaucoma and the risk increases with age. Higher risk populations and people who should be regularly screened for glaucoma include patients with a first degree relative with glaucoma, over the age of 60, African, Asian, or Hispanic heritage, chronic use of steroids (or steroid eye drops), thin central corneal thickness, history of eye trauma, history of high eye pressure, and patients with a high degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness.

If you have any of the above risk factors for glaucoma, you should see your ophthalmologist or come to Tailored Eyes for a screening evaluation and have your eye pressure checked. If you do not have risk factors for glaucoma then you should follow the general eye screening guidelines of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Click here for a summary of the general screening guidelines.

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