You could be extremely alarmed when you understand that almost two and a half million people have Glaucoma. More than half of these people do not even realize they have the disease because there are often no warning symptoms. Glaucoma is known as the “silent-thief” of sight because it silently steals your vision without you even realizing it. If you do not have routine eye exams to check the status of your eye health, glaucoma and other diseases will steal your vision. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and the leading cause of preventable blindness. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology Approximately 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve and causes vision loss - often without warning and symptoms. Like a cable wire, the optic nerve is responsible for carrying the images we see to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve can occur when the pressure within the eye increases, usually due to a build-up of aqueous fluid inside the eye. This leads to the development of blind spots in our field of vision. However, damage may occur without elevation of the intra-ocular pressure. Conversely, the pressure may at times be elevated without damaging the optic nerve. This is a condition known as Ocular Hypertension. Blind spots in the field of vision usually go undetected by the individual until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and a great loss of peripheral or central vision has occurred. A visual field evaluation can detect glaucomatous damage in its very early stages. If the disease is untreated the optic nerve may be damaged to a point that irreversible blindness will result.
Glaucoma, often called the "sneak thief of sight" because it usually has no symptoms, affects about 3 million Americans and 67 million people worldwide. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, particularly among the elderly population.
Types of Glaucoma
Chronic open-angle, Congenital, Secondary, Chronic angle-closure, and Angle-closure are all types of glaucoma.
Not every type of Glaucoma is the same or will have the same impact on your life. If you have been diagnosed with Glaucoma please make sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of glaucoma listed below. The doctors at Family Eye Center are happy to provide additional information regarding your specific type of glaucoma and what this will mean to your life.
- Chronic open-angle glaucoma:
This is the most common type of glaucoma. The drainage angle, where the fluids in the eye drain, is open, but working less efficiently. The inability to drain causes pressure within the eye to rise, which results in a gradual loss of side-vision. This can be likened to an air filter, which gathers dust over time & eventually becomes too laden with dust to work properly.
- Angle-closure glaucoma:
This type of the disease occurs when the drainage angle is completely blocked, often by the iris. This prevents any fluid to drain from the eye & causes the pressure within the eye to suddenly rise. This extreme rise in pressure causes blurred vision, headaches, severe eye pain as well as the appearance of halos around lights.
- Chronic angle-closure glaucoma:
This is painless and more gradual closing of the drainage angle, which occurs most frequently in people of African or Asian descent.
- Secondary Glaucoma:
This type of glaucoma progresses very much like chronic open-angle glaucoma. It occurs when scar tissue blocks the drainage angle. The first symptom is loss of side-vision.
- Congenital Glaucoma:
This is a birth defect, which affects the drainage angle. To prevent blindness, this condition must be treated shortly after birth. Symptoms include enlarged eyes, a cloudy cornea, light sensitivity and excessive tearing.