Tips from Quail Summit

What is Glaucoma?

What is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve in the eye. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that sends electrical impulses for sight to the brain. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or blindness. Clear fluid flows in and out of a small space at the front of the eye and keeps the tissues in the eye healthy. If this fluid drains too slowly, it puts pressure on the optic nerve and can cause glaucoma.

Many times, there are no symptoms at first. Vision stays normal and there is no pain. But as the disease gets worse, side vision may begin to fail. Objects straight ahead may be clear, but objects to the side may not be seen. Over time, with no treatment, people with glaucoma may not be able to see objects straight ahead.

Anyone can get glaucoma, but people at higher risk for glaucoma are:

  • African Americans age 40 and older
  • All adults age 60 and older
  • Those who have family members with glaucoma
  • Those who have diabetes, hypertension and previous eye injury are at a great risk for glaucoma

An eye care professional can determine whether a person has glaucoma through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Drops are put into the eyes to enlarge the pupils. The eye care professional is then able to see more of the inside of the eye to check for signs of damage to the optic nerve. A dilated eye exam is important because screening for eye pressure alone is not enough to detect glaucoma.

Glaucoma cannot be cured, but treatment can help control the pressure in your eye and delay further damage to the optic nerve. The most common treatments include:

  • Medications, such as eye drops or pills
  • Laser surgery
  • Traditional surgery

Early detection and treatment are the best ways to control glaucoma before it causes permanent vision loss.  For more information contact your eye care professional.