Do you or someone you know have glaucoma? Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief of sight” and can affect people of all ages. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
It is easy to take something like eyesight for granted. After all, most people can use their vision at all times, even if they need glasses to assist them.
It is important to remember that you can only see as long as your eyes are healthy. Our eyes are very delicate instruments. All of the mechanisms in the eye must work together properly to be able to produce clear vision.
Most eye problems people encounter show apparent signs, leading them to seek treatment before too much damage occurs to their vision. However, with glaucoma, most people will not have any noticeable changes in their vision until it progresses to more advanced stages.
For those who have glaucoma, any damage done to the vision prior to treatment is often permanent.
Pressure in the Eye
Glaucoma is a progressive disease, which means that it slowly gets worse over time. In fact, some types of glaucoma progress so slowly that your vision can begin to worsen before you realize that anything is wrong.
Often the brain will work harder to make up for the difference, and you get accustomed to your darkening vision faster than you can detect a change. How does this happen?
It all has to do with eye pressure. Fluid is constantly cycled through our eyes, either being created or excreted. Glaucoma occurs when either too much fluid is being produced or when not enough fluid is leaving the eye.
When the fluid exits the eye, it passes through a mesh drainage system.
In some types of glaucoma, a slight blockage of this meshwork results in a slow but steady backup of the entire system.
Sometimes, when the eye produces too much fluid too quickly, it can create a similar problem. In either case, if the fluid is not leaving quickly enough, pressure begins to build up in the eye.
Eventually, this pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, which is the cable that connects your eye to your brain. Once this damage to your optic nerve occurs, there is currently no way to repair or reverse it.
If glaucoma’s silent nature and permanent damage weren’t bad enough, once you have the disease, it is with you for life. The good news is that the progression of glaucoma can be slowed with the use of medication.
Glaucoma eye drops help to reduce and maintain healthy eye pressure. They work by either relaxing muscles in the eye to allow the fluid to drain at the correct rate or decreasing eye fluid production. In some cases, they will do both.
Glaucoma medication needs to be taken consistently in order to be effective. Make sure you understand your regimen if you are on glaucoma medication so that you can preserve your sight.
In some cases, surgery might be necessary in order to help your eye drain fluid quickly. Shunts can be implanted in your eye’s drainage system to bypass the blockage.
You may still need to use glaucoma medication to continue to lower the pressure the shunt is implanted.
The key to minimizing the effects of glaucoma is through early detection. It is impossible to detect glaucoma on your own, but a trained professional can test your eye pressure and diagnose it before it has a chance to steal your sight.
Are you interested in learning more about glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at Frantz EyeCare in Fort Myers, FL today to set up routine eye exams and stay informed about glaucoma.