What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of progressive damage to the optic nerve. If untreated, it may lead to blindness. Elevated intraocular pressure is a risk factor. However, it is important to note that patients with normal eye pressure can also have glaucoma.
A person with early glaucoma is usually not symptomatic. Mild increases in intraocular pressure are not painful. Early field loss is in the periphery, and is usually not noticeable. The intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve, which acts as a cable delivering visual information to the brain. It is important to detect glaucoma early in order to prevent irreversible damage to the optic nerve.
How do you diagnose glaucoma?
An eye examination should be performed every 2 years before age 50 and every year after age 50 (more frequently in people with certain ocular or systemic diseases or who have certain risk factors). During this examination, the intraocular pressure, optic nerve, and glaucoma risk factors will be evaluated. If any of these tests lead to suspicion of glaucoma, a visual field test, optic nerve imaging, an examination of the angle where the iris meets the cornea, and a corneal thickness measurement may be performed. Based on these results, the probability of glaucoma will be determined , and the need for treatment assessed.
How do you treat glaucoma?
Eye drops, pills, laser treatment or surgery may be needed to control glaucoma. It is important to realize that the goal of all glaucoma therapy is to prevent damage because once damage occurs, it can not be reversed. Fortunately, glaucoma usually progresses very slowly.