Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States, and it is estimated that more than 3 million Americans currently live with the condition. Although it is very common, many people still lack a great deal of understanding about what the condition is, the symptoms it causes and whether there is any treatment available. To help educate our patients, here’s what you need to know about glaucoma signs and treatment.
The majority of people are unaware that there is actually more than one type of glaucoma, although there is one that is much more common than any of the others.
The most common type of glaucoma affecting as many as 90% of those diagnosed with the condition. It occurs when the drainage channels in the eye slowly become blocked, causing the pressure in the eyes to gradually increase.
This type of glaucoma is far less common and is a result of the eye drainage suddenly becoming blocked, causing the pressure within the eye to rise suddenly and dramatically.
Secondary glaucoma is caused by an underlying eye condition, such as inflammation of the eye (uveitis).
As the name suggests, this is glaucoma that usually develops in very young children and is a result of an abnormality with the eye.
One of the biggest challenges of glaucoma is that in the vast majority of cases, it develops very slowly. As the drainage channels within the eye become increasingly blocked, the accumulation of pressure within the eye will start to cause damage to the optic nerve. You will almost certainly not notice anything unusual at first, but over time, the edges of your vision will begin to be affected. This is what is known as peripheral vision. Since the development is so slow, glaucoma is more often than not detected at annual comprehensive eye exams rather than a visit to your eye doctor as a result of symptoms that you have been experiencing. However, that’s not to say that there are no symptoms at all. There are signs that can indicate the potential presence of glaucoma, and these include:
- Blurred vision
- Rainbow-colored circles around lights
The symptoms of glaucoma usually affect both eyes, although the severity of the signs between the eyes may be different.
If you are unfortunate enough to develop acute, closed-angle glaucoma, the symptoms will be very obvious and impossible to ignore. The signs include:
- Intense eye pain
- Red eyes
- Tenderness around the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Seeing rings around lights
Although these symptoms do not necessarily guarantee that you have this rarer form of glaucoma, you should still arrange to get your eyes examined immediately to prevent any unnecessary vision loss.
Unfortunately, any vision loss that has previously occurred as a result of glaucoma cannot be reversed. However, the good news is that there are various options that could prevent the condition from progressing and the damage to your sight from becoming worse. Some of the things that may be suggested to you could include:
Eyedrops. Eyedrops can be used to reduce the amount of pressure in your eyes, preventing further damage to the optic nerve and further sight loss.
Laser treatment. Laser technology is being successfully used in the optical industry in a variety of ways. It is one of the most effective treatments to prevent the progression of glaucoma is using laser technology to open the drainage channels back up and reduce the level of pressure within the eyes. Laser treatment tends to be the first course of action in treating acute closed-angle glaucoma.
Surgery to improve fluid drainage. If you aren’t a good candidate for laser treatment, you may be referred for surgery to manually open the drainage channels back up so that fluid can drain away.
Fortunately, there is no need to suffer from glaucoma unnecessarily. By attending your regular comprehensive eye exams, our eye care team can monitor the pressure within your eyes to ensure that it isn’t building and that you aren’t at risk of glaucoma. For more information about glaucoma, please contact our offices.