Glaucoma

View Video

 

Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages your optic nerve and can cause vision loss and blindness. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front of the eye and resulting increase in eye pressure damages the nerve. The optic nerve takes the images we see with our eyes and carries those images to our brain to interpret. Glaucoma is known as the “silent sight taker” as there are not many signs or symptoms from the disease itself. If glaucoma goes untreated it can lead to irreversible vision loss or even blindness. Risk factors for glaucoma include: 

  • Elevated Intraocular Pressure 
  • Family history of glaucoma 
  • Age (40 or older) 
  • Are of African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage and over 
  • Diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, or poor blood circulation 
  • Previous eye injury 
  • Long term use of steroid medications 
  • Are nearsighted or farsighted 
  • Thinning of the optic nerve 

The most common form of this disease is called primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). In POAG the fluid is produced as normal but does not drain as it should. More fluid is being produced than can drain out, and the slow buildup of fluid leads to high intraocular pressure. This process is painless and causes no symptoms at first. As the disease progresses, blind spots develop in the peripheral vision. 

Another form that is less common is called narrow angle glaucoma or closed. This happens when the iris is too close to the drainage system and doesn’t allow proper outflow of fluid. When the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure rises very quickly. This is called an acute attack. Signs of an acute attack include: 

  • Sudden vision loss or blurriness 
  • Severe eye pain 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Rainbow colored halos surrounding lights 

Medicine and surgery treatments can help prevent more damage from getting worse. Medicated eye drops to reduce the amount of aqueous fluid produced or helping fluid through the drainage angle. Laser or traditional surgery can help open the drainage system or create new drainage holes. The best preventative measure to take is to have regular eye exams every 1-2 years, and more often if diagnosed with glaucoma. At Retina Specialist of Michigan, we screen our patients for glaucoma and arrange for you to see a glaucoma specialist if you are not currently under the care of one. If you have questions regarding your vision or symptoms, speak with one of our staff at (616) 954-2020.