Don't Lose Your Vision To This Silent Thief

With most medical diseases, you expect to have some symptoms that warn you of its presence. Glaucoma, however, is one eye disease that can become so severe as to cause blindness without giving you much warning at all! This is what you need to know about this silent condition and how to prevent it from stealing your vision.

An Imbalance of Pressure is the Problem

Your eyeball is filled with a thick fluid called vitreous humor. This fluid maintains the shape of the eyeball. Your eye produces just enough fluid, and allows just enough to escape, to keep that shape.

Glaucoma occurs when the drainage of fluid from the eye is restricted or the production of the fluid increases. Both conditions allow the pressure in the eye to become abnormally high. The pressure puts stress on the delicate structures in the eye. One of these structures, the optic nerve, can become damaged because of the high pressure. When the optic nerve is damaged sufficiently, partial or total blindness can occur.

Symptoms Can Be Minor or Non-Existent

The progression of glaucoma to a point where you lose your vision can generate symptoms so mild that you ignore them or rule them out as something else. When a person does have symptoms, they can include:

  • halos around bright lights, especially at night
  • reddish tinge to the white part of your eye
  • throbbing in the eye
  • headaches
  • lack of peripheral vision while your central vision remains clear

Diagnosing Glaucoma

A regular glaucoma eye exam is needed to detect this eye disease before it affects your vision. Eye doctors, like those at Webster Eye Care, can do this examination when you go in for your normal eye checkup. During his exam, the doctor will do the following:

  • examine the optic nerve for any signs of damage
  • measure the pressure of the fluid in your eyes
  • evaluate your peripheral and central vision

Treatment Options for Glaucoma

There is no cure for this eye disease. The focus of treatment is on lowering the pressure in the eyeball before the optic nerve is damaged. Available treatments for glaucoma include:

  • Eye drops - Medications can be dropped into the eye which decrease the production of the fluid in the eye. Some eye drops help fluid drain from the eye. If you respond to this treatment, you'll have to take the eye drops for the remainder of your life.
  • Injections - When the pressure in the eye is severe, an injection of medication directly into the eye will help reduce the pressure. This is also a lifelong treatment.
  • Surgery - Eye surgeons can create additional areas in the eyeball to drain the excess fluid and reduce pressure. This may need to be done in addition to using medications to prevent a future buildup of pressure.