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All You Need To Know About Glaucoma To Save Your Sight

What is Glaucoma?

Your brain receives visual images from millions of optic fibres to help you see. Each eye comprises an optic nerve that connects to your brain. This is an extension of your central nervous system and plays a critical role in your vision by transmitting electrical pulses that are converted to sensory information by your brain.

However, some eye disorders can damage the optic nerve and lead to mild or severe vision loss. Research suggests that glaucoma is the most common eye disorder causing optic nerve damage and vision loss. It affects the front part of the eye, where fluid builds up and creates eye or intraocular pressure.

If the pressure buildup is left untreated, it can result in permanent vision loss or blindness. In most cases, glaucoma will be worse in one eye, even if it impacts both. Additionally, there are instances where you can have normal eye pressure but develop glaucoma.

How Common is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the leading eye disorder that causes irreversible blindness globally. Since glaucoma is painless, it’s estimated that more people are living with it without being aware. Moreover, it’s an eye disorder that appears with age, confusing whether it’s the onset of average vision loss due to old age or a disorder.

4 Types of Glaucoma

Congenital Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma is prevalent in children from birth until age three. While it can be inherited, there are cases when the eye tissue’s development is affected before birth. This can result in excess eye fluid that doesn’t drain as it should after birth, leading to increased eye pressure that damages the optic nerve.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

Research suggests that normal-pressure glaucoma is the most common type. In some cases, factors affecting blood flow and the structural weakness of the optic nerve tissue can impact the brain’s visual signals. Accurate diagnosis can uncover the underlying cause, such as high blood pressure, to provide effective treatment to improve the eye’s drainage system.

Closed-Angle Glaucoma

A blockage of fluid can cause severe eye pressure, which builds up and causes pain, blurred vision, and eye redness or tenderness. An underlying condition such as diabetes, inflammation, or the abnormal structure of your eye can increase the risk of this uncommon type of glaucoma.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Did you know your eye’s drainage system can become clogged over time? It’s difficult to determine when this happens because it develops slowly without symptoms or vision loss in most instances. However, if early diagnosis is possible, it can be treated.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disorder that develops when various factors, such as poor eye drainage, eye injury, or inflammation, damage the optic nerve. An impaired optic nerve reduces aqueous humour production, an essential fluid that nourishes the eye. Additionally, if your eye drainage system is clogged, this fluid will remain, leading to devastating consequences.

When fluid has nowhere to go, it builds up pressure in and around your eye, leading to permanent vision loss if untreated.

Common Symptoms to Look Out For

While most cases of glaucoma don’t show apparent symptoms, it’s important to note concerning changes in your vision, especially when they happen unexpectedly. A routine eye check is necessary to ensure you detect the onset of glaucoma before it leads to permanent blindness.

Severe symptoms can include:

  • Intense headaches.
  • Eye pain or pressure.
  • Blurred vision or having blind spots.
  • Red, itchy, and watery eyes.
  • Rainbow-coloured circles around lights.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Risk Factors for Glaucoma

Even though glaucoma can affect anyone, these are specific risk factors you should be aware of:

  • Any underlying eye disorders such as far- or near-sightedness.
  • Being diagnosed with a chronic illness such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or sickle cell anaemia.
  • A previous eye injury or surgery.
  • A family history of glaucoma.
  • If you are above the age of 40.
  • Any long-term use of anti-inflammatory medications like cortisone or prednisone.

In summary, vision loss can be caused by various factors. It’s normal for most people to experience poor vision, including bad night vision and blind spots, which lead to limited sight and require visual aids such as spectacles or contact lenses to improve it. However, glaucoma can be more severe and lead to permanent blindness if left untreated.

It’s crucial to schedule an eye exam to detect if you have vision loss caused by eye pressure related to glaucoma. While treatment can’t restore lost vision, it can help slow the progression of glaucoma. Fortunately, Affinity Health covers your basic optometry needs. Ensure that you schedule regular eye tests to prevent the onset of a severe eye disorder such as glaucoma.

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