Glaucoma is not one disease, but rather a group of eye conditions usually caused by built up pressure in one or both eyes. Because an individual who has glaucoma can be symptom-free, the disease often goes undetected until the affected experiences vision loss. Untreated, glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye’s light-sensitive retina to the brain.
Glaucoma symptoms vary, depending on the type of glaucoma; however, general symptoms include peripheral vision loss, tunnel vision, eye pain, visual disturbances, eye reddening, and halos around lights. There are several types of glaucoma that affect the eye differently. These include primary open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma, congenital glaucoma, and secondary glaucoma.
Treatment of glaucoma can slow the disease down. Medication, laser treatment, and surgery are all options, depending on how severe the case is. If caught early, doctors often prescribe eye drops or other medications that lower pressure in the eye. These medications must be taken regularly to work effectively.
Laser treatment is often given to help drain the eye of pressure-causing fluids. The procedure is similar to corrective laser eye surgery and is usually a good way to reduce eye pressure. If other treatments do not work for a patient, conventional surgery is the last option. With this surgery, a new opening is created to allow fluid to leave the eye. According to National Eye Institute (NEI) statistics, this operation is 60 to 80 percent effective at lowering eye pressure, and sometimes the patient’s vision deteriorates post surgery.
Resources on Glaucoma
- Mayo Clinic Definition of Glaucoma
- National Eye Institute Facts about Glaucoma
- WebMd Glaucoma and your Eyes
- eMedicine Glaucoma, Complications and Management
- All About Eyes Glaucoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Types, Treatments
- Glaucoma Research Foundation