WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide and the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. It is estimated that over three million Americans have glaucoma but only half are aware that they suffer from this condition.
Glaucoma is associated with eye pressure that is high enough to cause damage to the optic nerve, which results in vision loss. Those with “normal” or even low eye pressure can develop glaucoma. Left untreated, peripheral vision loss occurs, which eventually progresses to complete blindness.
The exact cause of glaucoma is not known, although those with a family history of glaucoma, people of certain ethnicities, and people over the age of 60 are at increased risk for developing glaucoma.
There are many different types of glaucoma, but they generally fall into two camps – open angle and narrow angle.
There is no cure for glaucoma. Progressive vision loss cannot be completely stopped, but it can be slowed down. This is achieved by lowering the pressure inside the eye. Because glaucoma is most often asymptomatic in the early stages, prompt detection is key.
Glaucoma testing includes:
- Measurement of intraocular eye pressure
- Measurement of corneal thickness (pachymetry)
- Direct visualization of the drainage of the eye (gonioscopy)
- Scans of the optic nerve (OCT)
- Evaluation of peripheral vision loss (visual field test)
- Dilated fundus examination
- Corneal hysteresis