Glaucoma refers to a range of conditions that affect the optic nerve. The most common condition causes internal pressure in the eye to build over time, causing progressive damage and vision loss.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a complex group of eye conditions with a common characteristic—damage to the optic nerve. This damage can result in irreversible vision loss if not detected and treated in its early stages. Because glaucoma typically progresses without noticeable symptoms until significant damage has occurred, it is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight.”
Glaucoma can take various forms, including open-angle, angle-closure, and secondary glaucoma. Each type may have distinct characteristics and risk factors.
The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, happens when there is a gradual increase in intraocular pressure—the internal pressure inside your eyes. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris does not drain fluid efficiently, leading to fluid buildup in the eye. The condition tends to progress slowly without pain or symptoms until later stages.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle between the cornea and iris becomes blocked. This blockage can result in a sudden increase in intraocular pressure, leading to intense eye pain, headache, and rapid vision loss. Angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. Seek emergency medical attention right away.
Secondary glaucomas are a diverse group of conditions in which elevated intraocular pressure results from other eye disorders or systemic health issues. These may include trauma, inflammation, diabetes, medications, or other underlying conditions. Management of secondary glaucomas often involves treating the underlying problem and elevating intraocular pressure.
What Causes Glaucoma?
The precise cause of glaucoma is not fully understood, but they are all characterized by increased pressure in the eye. The optic nerve, which sends visual information from the eye to the brain, can become damaged when the intraocular pressure becomes too high—leading to vision loss that cannot be regained.
Several factors may contribute to glaucoma, including genetics, age, and certain medical conditions. Understanding the risk factors is crucial for early detection and treatment. At Chicago Eye Surgeons, we review your complete medical history and symptoms to diagnose the type and severity of your glaucoma and create a personalized treatment plan.
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
Treatment for glaucoma varies based on the type and severity of glaucoma and can include medications, laser therapy, and surgery. Treatment aims to reduce intraocular pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve.
With our extensive experience treating glaucoma, our experts will work with you to find the best treatment to restore your eye health and vision. Treatment options include:
- Eye Drop Medication: These medications help reduce intraocular pressure by either decreasing the production of aqueous humor (the fluid in the eye) or improving drainage.
- Laser Therapy: Laser procedures can effectively enhance fluid drainage from the eye, reducing intraocular pressure.
- Surgery: Your doctor may recommend surgical intervention for cases where other treatments have not been successful. Various surgical procedures aim to create new drainage channels or decrease fluid production.
What You Should Know
Understanding your risk factors, including family history, age, ethnicity, and medical conditions, can empower you to take proactive measures to treat glaucoma early. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or poor blood circulation, you might be at increased risk.
Is Glaucoma Permanent?
Once glaucoma damages the eye, it can’t be reversed, so early detection and treatment are critical for maintaining healthy vision. Reducing intraocular eye pressure can prevent further damage to the optic nerve and prevent future vision loss.
Managing glaucoma is a lifelong process. Regular follow-up appointments with your eye surgeon are important to monitor the condition’s progression and ensure continued treatment.
We’re dedicated to preserving your vision and enhancing your eye health at Chicago Eye Surgeons. Learn more about your treatment options for glaucoma and schedule your eye exam with us today.