Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly and often unknowingly steals an individual’s ability to see over time. It is a disease of the optic nerve, the pathway connecting the eyeball and retina to the brain. Although the relationship is complex, patients with glaucoma generally have elevated intraocular pressure. This dangerous buildup of internal eye pressure causes slow, but progressive damage to the optic nerve either by “pressing” on its microscopic fibers or by reducing the blood flow to them. The exact mechanism is complex, and there are even some patients who develop the disease despite relatively normal eye pressures.
Most patients diagnosed with this eye disease, approximately 90%, have what is known as open-angle glaucoma. Here, the fluid in the front of the eye, known as the aqueous humor, is able to easily pass through the eye’s drainage channel, but the “drain” (also known as the trabecular meshwork) is not as effective as it once was.
The other 10% have what is known as narrow-angle glaucoma. In this case, the path to the drain is narrowed and the normal flow of aqueous humor is compromised. In rare cases, the narrow type may be an acute event accompanied by severe pain and rapid loss of vision.
Whether open or narrow, both types typically result in elevated eye pressure and gradual loss of vision. Often called the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma may produce no symptoms until the disease progresses and causes irreparable harm. This is why it is so important for patients to have their eye pressure checked and to be screened.
Don’t let glaucoma steal your sight—contact us today to schedule your eye exam!