Glaucoma: The Silent Thief of Sight

Types of Glaucoma and Glaucoma Treatments from IECWhat is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals vision. It typically occurs when increased pressure within the eye causes damage to the optic nerve. Pressure in the eye is typically due to a buildup. This fluid normally exits your eye via a drainage system at the angle where your iris and cornea meet. When the drainage system isn’t working like it needs to, fluid can’t leave your eye at a normal rate, and pressure builds within your eye.

The optic nerve is made up of a large number of nerve fibers. Glaucoma can damage nerve fibers causing blind spots to develop. At first, people don’t notice these blind areas until much of the damage has already occurred, and once the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results. Early detection and treatment by an ophthalmologist are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.

Types of Glaucoma

There are basically two types of Glaucoma: open-angle and closed-angle.

  • Open-angle
    • Most common form of glaucoma
    • Caused by slow clogging of the drainage canals, resulting in increased eye pressure
    • Has a wide and open angle between the iris and cornea
    • Develops slowly, and is a lifelong condition
    • Has symptoms and damage that go unnotice
  • Closed-angle, also known as angle-closure glaucoma
    • Less common form of glaucoma
    • Caused by blocked drainage canals, resulting in a sudden rise in pressure
    • Has a closed or narrow angle between the iris and cornea
    • Develops very quickly
    • Has symptoms and damage that are usually very noticeable
    • Demands immediate medical attention 

Risk factors

Chronic forms of glaucoma can destroy vision before any signs or symptoms are apparent. It’s important to be aware of these factors:

  • Age
    • You’re at a higher risk of glaucoma if you’re older than 60
    • Rarely, children may be born with glaucoma, develop it within the first few years of life or develop the disease after the age of four
  • Ethnic Background
    • African Americans over the age of 40 have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma than do Caucasians
  • Elevated Eye Pressure
    • Higher than normal internal eye pressure
    • Important to remember that high pressure alone does not mean that you have glaucoma
  • Family history of glaucoma
    • Glaucoma may have a genetic link
  • Past injuries to the eyes
    • Severe injuries can cause increased eye pressure
  • Lack of physical fitness
    • Regular aerobic exercise can help reduce eye pressure, critical for dealing with glaucoma risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, eye drops may be provided to control pressure in your eye. Eye drops lower eye pressure, either by decreasing the amount of fluid produced within the eye or by improving the flow through the drainage angle. However, drops alone may not always treat glaucoma. Additional treatment options include laser procedures or surgery.

How is Glaucoma detected?
Regular eye examinations by an ophthalmologist are the best way to detect glaucoma. Schedule your complete and pain-free eye exam today by calling Illinois Eye Center at (309) 243-2400. Visit our website for more information on glaucoma and its treatment


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