Glaucoma in Honesdale, Dingmans Ferry, Carbondale, & Lake Ariel, PA
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease caused by increased intraocular pressure (IOP) resulting either from an overproduction of fluid or from a malfunction of the eye's drainage structures. Left untreated, an elevated IOP causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve and retinal fibers, which leads to progressive and permanent vision loss. Early detection and treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease.
Essentially, glaucoma occurs when the delicate balance between the production and drainage of aqueous is thrown off-balance. Common types of glaucoma are open angle and acute angle closure.
Open angle glaucoma results from aqueous fluid building up within the anterior chamber, causing IOP to become elevated. Left untreated, this may result in permanent damage of the optic nerve and retina.
Acute angle closure occurs in only about 10% of the glaucoma population. It is the result of an abnormality of the structures in the front of the eye, collectively called the angle. In most of these cases, the angle space between the iris and cornea is more narrow than normal, leaving a smaller channel for the aqueous to pass through. If the flow of aqueous becomes completely blocked, IOP rises sharply, causing a sudden angle closure attack.
Two less common forms of glaucoma are secondary glaucoma, which results from another disease or problem in the eye and congenital glaucoma, a rare type that is seen in infants and requires surgery.
Symptoms & Warning Signs of Glaucoma
There are many reasons why you may suddenly be dealing with blurry vision. You may just need a change in prescription, or you may be dealing with the early signs of glaucoma. A family history of glaucoma, as well as certain health problems and age, are all factors that can increase your risk for glaucoma. That’s why it’s particularly important for people over the age of 60 to visit our Precision Eye Group office if they notice these warning signs:
- Blurry vision
- Rainbows or halos around lights
- Loss of vision
- Eye pain
Since most people rarely experience early warning signs of glaucoma, particularly those with open-angle glaucoma, it’s recommended that you visit an eye doctor every year for an eye exam. This condition is progressive and can lead to permanent blindness. This is why early detection and treatment is key to preserving your eyesight.
Risk Factors of Glaucoma
While our eye doctor will certainly screen anyone for glaucoma, it is particularly important for older adults to get regular glaucoma screenings when they come into the office for their annual exam. While anyone can develop glaucoma, there are certain risk factors including:
- Age: most people who develop glaucoma are over 60 years old
- Genetics: If you have a family member with glaucoma you are at a much greater risk for developing it yourself
- Trauma: If you’ve had eye injuries in the past this can also increase your risk for glaucoma
- Medical conditions: there are certain conditions such as nearsightedness, diabetes, and hypertension that can also put you at a higher risk
- Race: You may be more likely to develop glaucoma if you are African American, Hispanic or Asian
The danger of glaucoma lies in its lack of symptoms. Generally, it takes a routine eye exam to detect the disease. However, acute angle closure may cause a sudden decrease in vision, extreme eye pain, headache, nausea or vomiting, or acute glare and light sensitivity.
Most patients with glaucoma require only medication to control the eye pressure. Sometimes more than one medication will be prescribed. Surgery is indicated when medical treatment fails to lower the pressure satisfactorily. The purpose of surgery is to allow fluid to drain from the eye more efficiently so IOP is not elevated.