Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for connecting the back of the eye (retina) to the brain. Glaucoma is usually caused by an increase in the fluid pressure in the eye – either because of overproduction of fluid or when the drainage system of the eye becomes blocked. The higher pressure inside the eye can cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss.
The doctors at Palmetto Eye & Laser Center provide diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Types of Glaucoma
- Open-angle glaucoma (most common): fluid builds up in the eye due to a blockage in the trabecular meshwork which leads to elevated eye pressure.
- Angle-closure glaucoma: the iris blocks part of the angle of the eye so fluid cannot drain properly. This leads to a sudden increase in eye pressure and is a medical emergency.
- Congenital glaucoma: present at birth, the angle of the eye does not allow for proper drainage of fluid.
- Secondary glaucoma: this develops as a complication of another eye surgery, injury, disease or other eye conditions.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half are aware of the condition. Although glaucoma can occur at any age, the risk of developing glaucoma increases dramatically after age 60. Other risk factors for glaucoma include:
- Family history of glaucoma
- Presence of diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure
- Trauma to the eye
- Certain eye conditions (thin corneas, retinal detachment, etc.)
- Race (African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Alaskans and Japanese are at higher risk)
- Naturally high intraocular pressure
Remember, vision loss from glaucoma is permanent but can usually be prevented with early detection and treatment. That means that regular eye exams are especially important for people over age 60 or those in other high risk groups.