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Posted on 08-28-2017
Glaucoma is a very dangerous condition of the eye that can result in vision loss if it is left untreated. The progression of the disease cannot be reversed, but it can be slowed and prevented from worsening. There are several different types of glaucoma, but open angle glaucoma is by far the most common. Angle closure glaucoma is also important, more due to its severity than its frequency.
Glaucoma happens when a chamber of fluid in the front of the eye loses its ability to drain properly. In open-angle glaucoma, the mesh that allows drainage becomes narrower and slowly reduces the amount of fluid that can pass through. This causes the pressure inside the chamber to creep up over time. This process is subtle and painless. In angle-closure glaucoma, the passage is suddenly and completely blocked, which makes the eye a ticking time bomb as the pressure rapidly rises and threatens the optic nerve, which transmits light to the brain. This is painful and can cause light sensitivity and tearing red eyes. Angle closure glaucoma is a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately, without delay so that the pressure can be relieved.
Glaucoma is detected early with a dilated eye exam. Signs of the increased pressure can be seen at the back of the eye. Tonometry, or the "puffed-air" machine also measures the eye pressure, and pachymetry tests the corneal thickness, which can alter the tonometry readings. It can also be picked up with changes in peripheral vision, and visual acuity itself, although that is usually a later symptom.
Glaucoma is one of those diseases that illustrate why it is so important to see an optometrist annually. There are several ways to catch glaucoma, and glaucoma testing is a normal part of a comprehensive eye exam. Catching glaucoma prevents it from causing blindness.
Open-angle glaucoma is typically treated with medication. Both open and angle-closure glaucoma have a surgical treatment that can be used to open drainage and reduce pressure.
Dr. Schultz takes eye care very seriously. Make an eye appointment at Eye Center of Virginia by calling (757) 229-1131 for questions about vision care and glaucoma.
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