Humans tend to take a lot of things for granted. Someone who’s used to seeing rarely stops to think about how wonderful it is to enjoy having good vision. But, when something starts affecting eyesight, it all becomes worrisome — understandably so. Such is the case with glaucoma. A condition that often goes undetected until it has caused irreversible damage, it can start with blurry vision and end in permanent blindness.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that could lead to blindness. While it can have such catastrophic results, it has no early warning signs. By the time you notice changes in your vision, it’s already too late.
What causes glaucoma?
To understand glaucoma, it’s necessary to be familiar with the anatomy of the eyes. The clear, front surface of the eyes is called the cornea. Inside the cornea, there’s a clear fluid called aqueous humor. The purpose of this fluid is to nourish your eyes and maintain the eyes’ shape. The colored part of your eyes is called the iris.
The aqueous humor is produced by a part of the eyes called the ciliary body, and it’s drained from the eye through a mesh called the trabecular meshwork. It’s located in the angle formed by where the cornea and the iris meet.
Behind each of your eyes, some nerves transmit impulses from the retinas to the brain. These nerves are called optic nerves. When these nerves are injured or otherwise deteriorate, they produce aqueous humor buildup inside the eyes. When there’s excess fluid, the trabecular meshwork becomes too clogged, and the eye is not drained fast enough. As a result, it creates pressure inside your eyes — which then causes blind spots. This is called glaucoma.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
One of the worst aspects of glaucoma is that it doesn’t present any symptoms during its earliest stages — which is why routine eye exams are so important. As signs begin to develop, you may notice:
- Blind spots on peripheral vision
- Halos around lights
- Severe headaches
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Eye redness
- Tunnel vision
Diagnosis and Treatment of Glaucoma
The only way to diagnose glaucoma is by visiting an ophthalmologist. Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options. Note that each of them is designed to help prevent additional vision loss — they will not restore vision that’s already been damaged.
1. Eye Drops
Prescription eye drops for glaucoma vary from one patient to the next. This is because there are different types of glaucoma. In addition, some patients require more than one type of eye drops. You’ll also have to use them every day for the rest of your life. Failing to do so may lead to blindness.
2. Laser Surgery
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) is an option for patients for whom eye drops have not been effective. However, results only last for a handful of years — meaning you’ll have to continue undergoing the surgery periodically.
3. Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) requires small incisions to the eye. It’s done to drain aqueous humor buildup — thus also reducing the risk of additional damage to the optic nerve and further vision loss.
If You’re Struggling With Glaucoma, Let Us Help You
At St. Hope, we serve many patients living with a myriad of medical conditions. We believe that treating people with compassion is as important as the medicine they receive. We foster a trusting patient/medical provider relationship to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors feels comfortable and receives the care they deserve.