Glaucoma occurs when a build-up of fluid in the eye creates pressure, damaging the optic nerve. It may be caused by a gradual blockage of the canal through which the excess fluid inside the eye typically drains. Often as you age the drainage angle becomes less efficient.
What are the symptoms?
Glaucoma often starts slowly, exhibiting no symptoms at all until it has caused serious, irreversible damage. It is the primary reason to have regular eye exams after you turn 40. With early intervention you have a much better chance of preserving your vision. The three common signs of glaucoma are increased intraocular pressure, visual field loss and damage to the optic nerve and nerve fibers.
Sometimes glaucoma sets in rapidly, with
- Blurred vision
- Severe eye pain
- Rainbow haloes
- Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms require immediate intervention.
How can it be treated?
Prescription eye drops, such as OptiPranolol ®, can decrease eye pressure by slowing the production of fluids within the eye or by improving the drainage flow. These medications are effective for most patients when taken regularly. Glaucoma may also be treated by surgery to prevent or slow further damage.
What is involved in surgery for glaucoma?
Glaucoma surgery improves the flow of fluids in the eye, relieving pressure
on the optic nerve. Your doctor uses a highly focused laser beam either to
modify the existing drainage route or to create an alternate hole in the iris,
depending on the type of glaucoma you have. Surgery can treat glaucoma;
however, it cannot reverse existing damage, so it is imperative to get
treatment as early as possible to minimize vision loss.
Photo courtesy of National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.