The term glaucoma actually includes a family of eye conditions that are associated with damage to the optic nerve. It can result in partial or total blindness over time. Optic nerve damage caused by glaucoma is most often associated with elevated intraocular eye pressure; however, in some cases the pressure in the eye remains normal.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and it can affect people of all ages and races. Approximately 2.5 million Americans over 40 years of age have glaucoma, yet more than half are unaware they have this disease until their sight is compromised.
Who is at the greatest risk of developing glaucoma?
- People over the age of 40
- Patients with a family history of glaucoma
- African-Americans are 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma than Caucasians and roughly four times more likely to cause blindness.
- Mexican Americans
- Patients with diagnosed or undiagnosed hypertension or diabetes
Though there are several types of glaucoma, the two most common forms of glaucoma are:
Primary Chronic Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG): The structures within the eye appear normal, but the fluid (aqueous humor), is not able to drain properly. The production of this fluid must be balanced by equal amounts of drainage and an imbalance will cause the pressure in the eye to rise. If too high and left untreated, this pressure decreases the blood flow to the optic nerve resulting in a slow loss of peripheral vision and eventual blindness. Fortunately, if diagnosed early, there are many treatment modalities to prevent this. Early in the disease there are no symptoms and the damage is gradual, which is why it is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight.” The following symptoms only occur later in the disease:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Colored halos around lights
- Disturbed dark adaptation
- Reduced visual acuity
Acute Narrow Angle Glaucoma: This is characterized by abnormal structures in the front of the eye. These abnormal structures block the fluid from draining, causing intense and sudden rise in intraocular pressure. This can result in blindness within days and should be treated as a true emergency. These symptoms are quite different than POAG and include:
- Blurred vision
- Redness in the eye
- Extreme eye pain
Glaucoma Testing & Treatment
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial in preventing the progression of the disease. Here at Ft. Lauderdale Eye Associates we have state-of-the art equipment and testing procedures for the early detection and management of this disease.
Read more about Glaucoma Testing & Treatments
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website.