Glaucoma is a condition that affects the eyes and more specifically, the optic nerves.
Whilst there are a small number of variations with the type glaucoma and the sorts of symptoms that may be experienced, if left untreated, the result of the disease is the same - permanent eye damage that can eventually cause blindness.
The root cause of glaucoma is a build-up of fluid pressure in the eyes. This is known as ‘intraocular pressure’ and is caused by the eye not being able to drain excess fluids properly. A blockage in the ‘trabecular meshwork’ – the point where the fluid would ordinarily drain from – is the source of developing the eye condition. The resulting pressure damages optic nerve fibres and the retinal nerve fibres.
The chance of contracting glaucoma – as with most illnesses – increases as we get older, but it’s easily treatable if caught early on.
Although the types of glaucoma are sometimes defined by medical practitioners in varying amounts of detail, there are two two main types:
Acute glaucoma is also known as ‘closed angle’. It’s characterised by a swift onset of pain in the eyes and blurred vision when looking at light sources. More serious bouts can cause vision quality to deteriorate, severe eye pain, eye irritation (red and sore eyes), heightened sensitivity to bright lights, and even nausea may occur in certain cases.
Chronic glaucoma is also known as ‘open angle’. Less easy to detect, no symptoms are present until loss of outer vision happens or blurring of images right in front of the eye.
There’s also another tier of the condition – congenital glaucoma – which is present at birth and usually diagnosed during the first year of life.
Across all variations, symptoms are usually felt sooner in one eye than the other. When loss of vision is concerned, the process can occur slowly. Whatever stages the glaucoma is at it's important to catch it as soon as possible – damage once sustained is irreversible.
When identified, glaucoma is treatable by medicine and specific eye treatments, or by surgery.
Glaucoma screening is relatively easy. Attending regular check ups at your optician means that early warning signs can be seen. Anything that may suggest that you have glaucoma means that referral to an ophthalmologist is likely. This way, you’ll be in the best position to prevent damage from this serious but ultimately very treatable condition.
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