Glaucoma is a complicated disease in which damage to the optic nerve results in vision loss. Elevated eye pressure is an important risk factor in the development of glaucoma. In the early stages, glaucoma typically has no obvious symptoms thus it has been called “the silent thief of sight”. Therefore early diagnosis and treatment is important, since it can halt or prevent optic nerve damage. Risk factors for glaucoma include: African-American and Asian race, age over 60, family history of glaucoma, steroid use (i.e. for asthma), and eye injury. Other possible risk factors include: nearsightedness, hypertension, and diabetes.
Glaucoma can only be diagnosed through a routine complete eye exam. Therefore it is important to have your eyes checked regularly.
There are two main types of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the more common type of the diesase. There is resistance preventing the drainage of the fluid inside eye. This form of glaucoma is usually without symptoms. It is treated by eye drops, laser, or surgery. When untreated it can lead to blindness.
Closed-angle glaucoma is when the eye pressure is elevated. Typical symptoms include: eye pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, headache, and nausea/vomiting. This is an eye emergency. The eye pressure must be reduced immediately.