More about Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that results in damage to the eye’s optic nerve.

What is Glaucoma? 
Glaucoma is a disease that results in damage to the eye’s optic nerve. Glaucoma is generally related to high eye pressure. Damage to the optic nerve initially results in a decrease in peripheral vision and may eventually lead to blindness.

The optic nerve
The Optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain. Damage to the optic nerve results in an abnormal transmission of the image, and in advanced glaucoma results in no image being transmitted to the brain.

How does the optic nerve get damaged by open-angle glaucoma?

High eye pressure is a risk factor for the development of glaucoma. In the front of the eye there is a chamber that gets filled with fluid. This clear fluid is constantly being produced. The fluid leaves the eye by draining through small channels. Blockage of these channels results in a high pressure in the eye. This high pressure is transmitted to the optic nerve, which over time becomes damaged by the high pressure.

If the drainage angle is open, this is referred to as open angle glaucoma. Fluid is obstructed from passing through this drainage area. Eventually this pressure rise damages the optic nerve.

High blood pressure is also a risk factor for the development of glaucoma. It is important that any elevated blood pressure is treated by your medical doctor.

Can I develop glaucoma if I have increased eye pressure?
Not every person with a high eye pressure develops glaucoma. Some people can tolerate high pressures in the eye without causing damage to the optic nerve.

Whether you develop glaucoma depends on the pressure in the eye that your optic nerve can tolerate. This pressure is different from person to person. A comprehensive eye exam by your ophthalmologist will assist in deciding whether there is damage occurring to the optic nerve or not.

Can I develop glaucoma without an increase in my eye pressure?
Yes. Some people develop glaucoma even though their eye pressure is normal. This is referred to as normal tension glaucoma.

Who is at risk for open-angle glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people, listed below, are at higher risk than others:

  • Patients of African descend over age 40

  • Everyone over age 60

  • People with a family history of glaucoma

An eye examination may reveal other risk factors. These include: a high eye pressure, abnormally thin cornea or an abnormal optic nerve.

Glaucoma Symptoms
Initially glaucoma is a silent disease. Early stages have no symptoms. It causes no pain and vision is unaffected.

If left untreated, someone with glaucoma will eventually lose their peripheral vision. Eventually the area of vision narrows, until eventually only tunnel vision remains. If the process of damage to the optic nerve continues, vision may decrease until there is no vision.