Many people experience no symptoms of glaucoma until it is too late.
That is why experts recommend every person, especially those over the age of 40, have their eyes examined every two years.
If the disease is diagnosed early, it can be treated to prevent irreversible damage. Left untreated, the damage to the optic nerve can lead to serious loss of vision.
When the eye experiences an imbalance between the amount of fluid drained to the amount produced, a gradual increase of intraocular pressure is created.
Over time, this imbalance leads to a loss of vision.
Approximately 3 million Americans are affected by angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease.
Other types include congenital, narrow angle, normal tension andsecondary glaucoma.
By the age of 50, nearly 2 percent of the population has some type of glaucoma.
This increases to 4 percent by the age of 70 and nearly 25 percent for those over the age of 80.
Glaucoma can be developed by anyone, however certain risk factors may increase your chances.
1. Hereditary factors
2. Hispanics over the age of 60
3. African Americans over the age of 40.
Treatments for glaucoma include medication, laser treatments and several surgical procedures.
These treatments will not cure the disease, but they can help slow down the progression.
National Glaucoma Research
The NGR is an American Health Assistance Foundation program that funds research on glaucoma and helps to educate the public about the disease.
Since its inception, the NGR has granted more than $20 million for research projects to learn more about the cause of the disease and potential treatments.
Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma has been divided into six groups, but some eye experts only use two categories.
Open angle glaucoma – this is the most common type of the disease. It is progresses gradually and is characterized by damage of the optic nerve. The nerve damage is usually caused by excessive pressure.
At first, you will not notice any real signs or symptoms, but as the pressure builds, the optic nerve becomes damaged. This leads to the loss of your peripheral vision. Left untreated, you can lose your sight completely.
Closed angle glaucoma – this type can be either acute or chronic. With the acute type, the fluid flowing naturally between the iris and the lens of the eye suddenly becomes blocked. The symptoms of glaucoma of this type usually include blurred vision, severe pain, nausea or vomiting and the appearance of a rainbow circle around lights.
If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away. Untreated, this type can result in blindness in as little as a day or two. The chronic type progresses slower and doesn’t have any real symptoms, much like open angle glaucoma.
Normal tension glaucoma – with this type, peripheral vision is lost and the optic nerve is damaged, yet the pressure in the eye remains normal. Medication can usually slow down the progression of the disease.
Congenital glaucoma – this type is usually found in infants. A birth defect prevents the normal draining of eye fluids.
Juvenile glaucoma – many eye doctors do not recognize this as a different type, since it is basically open angle glaucoma, the only difference is that it affects children, teenagers and young adults.
Secondary glaucoma – this can develop as either open or closed angle glaucoma. It generally develops as a result of another medical condition such as:
1. Pigmentary glaucoma – this is quite rare. Pigments from the iris will flake off and clog the drainage system in the eye.
2. Pseudoexfoliation Syndrome – white material flakes off of the lens clogging or blocking the drainage system.
3. Neovascular glaucoma – an abnormal growth in the blood vessel occurs blocking the drainage channels. The abnormal growth may be caused by insufficient blood flowing to the eye because of diabetes, blockage in the neck arteries or blocked blood vessels behind the eye.
4. Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome – among other features, this type generally involves cells breaking off from cornea and blocking the drainage system.
Symptoms of glaucoma are barely noticeable, if at all, so PLEASE – have your eyes checked regularly to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.