What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve. This nerve sends visual signals to the brain, where they are processed into what you "see". No one knows exactly what cause pressure buildup in the eye is proven to be a major risk factor. If left untreated can result in gradual vision loss and eventual blindness.

Damage to the optic nerve, due to glaucoma, is usually caused by an elevated intraocular pressure (I.O.P.). Clear fluid, called aqueous humour circulates through the eye providing nourishment to the tissues pressure to help maintain the shape of the eye.
The loss of peripheral or side vision is characteristics of glaucoma. Centeral vision is typically not affected until very late in the disease process.(1)

What are the names of the different types of glaucoma?

  • Primary or chronic open-angle glaucoma (including low or normal tension glaucoma)
  • Primary angle closure glaucoma
  • Secondary open-angle glaucoma, including:
    • Steroid-induced glaucoma
    • Pseudoexfoliation
    • Pigmentary glaucoma
    • Uveitic glaucoma
    • Angle recession (trauma)
  • Secondary closed-angle glaucoma including:
    • Neovascular glaucoma
    • ICE Syndrome
  • Congenital glaucoma

Who Gets Glaucoma?

Glaucoma strikes people of every race, gender, and nationality. Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at great risk than others. Studies have proven that anyone who meets one or more of the following criteria is at increased risk:(2)

  • Over the age of 40
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Abnormally high Intraocular eye pressure
  • African, Scandinavian, Celtic, or Russian ancestry
  • Diabetic
  • Nearsighted
  • Regular, long-term use of steriods/cortisone
  • Previous eye injury

What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Many people don't even know they have glaucoma until they lose some of their eyesight. However, eye doctors can detect and treat glaucoma before most patients experience symptoms.

Most types of glaucoma develop slowly over time, which is why many patients will go years before noticing any symptoms. Patients with glaucoma may experience a gradual narrowing of their peripheral vision. Once the vision is loss due to the optic nerve damage can't be reversed.

Why is Eye Pressure important?

Your eye is filled with fluids that help maintain a certain pressure in the eye. This is called intraocular pressure (IOP). This is an important gauge in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

We measure IOP's using the standard Goldman tonometry.This test is important because high IOP's is a major risk factor for glaucoma;however, a high IOP doesn't necessarily mean you will have glaucoma, nor does a normal IOP.

Controlling IOP is a major goal in glaucoma therapy.

How is Glaucoma treated?

There is no cure for glaucoma, but there are some effective treatments that can help slow the progression and lower IOP's. Some treatments include medical,laser treatment, and glaucoma surgery.

Sources (1) Glaucoma Alcon Canada, (2) Glaucoma - A Patient's Guide to the Disease, (3) Dr. Rob Piemontesi