Glaucoma: What Every Patient Should Know

Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve joins your eyes to your brain and sends visual information to the brain. The brain processes this information so you can see.

Damage to the optic nerve can cause vision loss. The type and severity of the vision loss depending on where the damage happens and may affect one or both eyes. Glaucoma causes pressure buildup in the optic nerves, leading to damage. It develops so slowly that you may lose your sight before you know you have a problem.

What Causes Glaucoma?


Your eyes always make aqueous humor, the clear liquid that covers the eyeball's front surface between the eye lens and cornea. It moisturizes the eye and protects it from infection. As fresh fluid flows into your eyes, the same amount should flow out through the drainage angle. This process keeps the pressure inside your eyes (intraocular pressure) even and stable.

If the drainage angle stops working, the fluids accumulate. The tension inside the eyes increases, injuring the optic nerve. The optic nerve consists of countless nerve fibers. As the nerve fibers stop working, you will notice black spots in your vision.

You may see these black spots until most of the nerve fibers die. You will permanently lose your vision if all the nerve fibers are damaged.

What Increases Your Risk for Glaucoma?


You are at a higher risk for glaucoma if you:

  • Are above 40 years

  • Have a family history of glaucoma

  • Have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or sickle cell anemia

  • Are extremely farsighted or nearsighted

  • Take steroid medicines, such as prednisone eye drops

  • Have had an eye injury

  • Have thinner corneas than normal

  • Have high pressure inside your eyes

  • Are Hispanic, Asian, or Black


Types and Symptoms of Glaucoma



Open-angle Glaucoma


Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type. It occurs when the eye does not remove fluid as it should. That results in eye pressure building up and destroying the optic nerves. Open-angle glaucoma is painless and does not cause noticeable symptoms at first. But you may notice blind spots in your side vision.

Normal-tension Glaucoma


This happens when the optic nerves die out even though the eye pressure is normal. If your optic nerves are sensitive to normal eye pressure, your risk for glaucoma is higher than usual. Frequent eye exams are necessary to detect early signs of optic nerve damage. Symptoms start slowly with blurry vision, blind spots, eye pain, and migraine headaches.

Angle-closure Glaucoma


Angle-closure happens when the iris is too close to the drainage angle and blocks it. A clogged drainage angle causes eye pressure to build up fast, causing an acute attack. Acute-angle-closure glaucoma is an eye emergency, and you should call your eye doctor immediately. Otherwise, you could go blind.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden blurry vision

  • Acute eye pain

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Seeing colored rings or halos around lights


Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment


Using a comprehensive eye exam, your ophthalmologist will examine your eye pressure, optic nerve, and drainage angle. They will measure your cornea's thickness and test your side vision.

If you have glaucoma, your ophthalmologist will recommend a suitable treatment. Glaucoma damage is permanent and irreversible, but medication or surgery will help prevent further damage.

For more on glaucoma, visit Manchester Eyecare at our office in North Manchester, Indiana. Call (260) 306-3937 to book an appointment today.

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