A question we hear frequently, what causes glaucoma? Well, there are many different types of glaucoma but long story short, glaucoma is a group of eye conditions and diseases. These diseases damage the eye’s optic nerve and has the potential to result in permanent blindness or vision loss. Basically, the nerve connecting the eye to the brain is impaired, commonly caused by high eye pressure.
To simplify the process, glaucoma begins to develop by fluids that build up in the front part of your eye. That build up of fluid increases pressure in your eye, ultimately damaging the optic nerve.
With over 200,000 cases per year in the United States, this disease is all too common. More importantly, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old as well as the leading cause of blindness in America. Let’s discuss the two major types of glaucoma, how to prevent glaucoma, and certain glaucoma signs and symptoms to look out for.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Open-angle glaucoma, or wide-angle glaucoma, is the most common type. This type of glaucoma gradually reduces your peripheral vision without even noticing other symptoms. Typically, by the time you realize, permanent damage may have already occurred. When fluid reaches the angle, where the iris and cornea meet, it flows too slowly through a spongy meshwork and causes the excess build up of fluid, resulting in high pressure inside the eye.
Open-Angle Glaucoma symptoms:
- Patchy blind spots in your side (peripheral) or central vision, frequently in both eyes
- Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Acute angle-closure glaucoma, also called closed-angle glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma, is a less common form of the disease. This type of glaucoma occurs when the fluid becomes blocked or stopped in the eye. Many people who develop this type of glaucoma have a very narrow drainage angle, meaning the angle between your iris and cornea is too narrow. Therefore the fluid builds up and eye pressure increases quickly. It is a medical emergency that can cause vision loss and blindness within one day and needs to be taken care of by an eye doctor right away. It’s also linked to farsightedness, a clouding of the lens inside your eye.
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma Symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Eye redness
Upon diagnosis through a comprehensive eye exam, it’s time to undergo glaucoma treatment. Regular use of prescription eye drops are the most common and often the first treatment. Some cases may require medications that reduce pressure in the eye, laser treatment or other types of surgery. All of which are aimed at reducing pressure in the eye to help with vision loss.
So, can glaucoma be cured? While there is not yet a cure for glaucoma, early diagnosis and continuing treatment can preserve eyesight in the long run. It’s crucial to periodically see your local Tucson optometrist, that way they can catch eye diseases and eye problems early on and hopefully prevent glaucoma.