WHAT IS IT?
Glaucoma isn’t one eye disease but is a group of eye conditions that can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. Abnormally high pressure inside your eye is often the cause. This can happen when normal drainage channels become blocked and fluid builds up in the eye.
Factors that can increase your risk of glaucoma include age and a family history of glaucoma. Blacks older than age 40 have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma than do whites. People of Asian descent also are at increased risk of some forms of glaucoma.
Several conditions may increase your risk of developing glaucoma, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
- A gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes
- Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Other signs and symptoms may include eye pain, blurred vision, halos around lights, and reddening of the eye.
The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pressure in your eye.
Treatment often starts with medicated eye drops that increase the outflow of fluid from the eye, decrease the production of fluid or both, reducing eye pressure.
If eyedrops alone don’t reduce eye pressure to a desired level, your doctor also may prescribe an oral medication.
Surgical procedures include:
- Laser surgery. A high-energy laser beam is used to open clogged drainage canals and help fluid drain more easily from your eye.
- Filtering surgery. An opening is made in the white of your eye (sclera) and a small piece of eye tissue is removed at the base of your cornea, allowing fluid to leave the eye through this opening.
- Drainage implants. A surgeon inserts a small tube in your eye to facilitate drainage of fluid from the eye.
Some types of glaucoma are medical emergencies, requiring urgent treatment to reduce eye pressure. A laser may be used to create a small hole in your iris, allowing fluid to exit your eye.
Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.